'My husband died of Covid-19 in Dubai. What benefits will I receive from his employer?'

The widow and her two daughters, who all live in India, could not attend the funeral in the UAE

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , April 26– 2020 :- Medical staff working at the COVID-19 patients ward at the Prime Hospital on airport road in Al Garhoud in Dubai . (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Standalone/Online/Instagram/Stock.  Story by Nick Webster
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My husband started working in Dubai in December 2012 and joined a new company in August 2019. He died on May 7 in Dubai, due to Covid-19. I could not travel to the emirate due to the movement restrictions and sent a letter of authority for his burial. I have sent all the required documents to the company he worked for and they have asked me to wait until they receive feedback from the authorities. What benefits will I receive as I am worried about myself and my two daughters? GM, India

My condolences on your loss. With the current travel restrictions, it is very hard for family members when a loved one dies, so I hope the employer is helpful.

An employer should only require sight of a death certificate to be able to make any payments due. There should be a payment to the deceased’s beneficiaries, much in the same way as would be made if a person had been made redundant. This is covered in Federal Law No 7 for Pension and Social Security. Article 42 of this states: "In the case of death of an insured person, the remuneration payable to him against the period of service shall be paid to his beneficiaries …" It goes on to say "in the case of non-existence of such beneficiaries, the remuneration shall be distributed in accordance with the rules of succession in... Sharia". This essentially says payments due can be paid to the deceased employee’s preferred beneficiaries but if no instruction exists, or if this is unclear, the inheritance provisions of Sharia will be applied.

As the deceased was in his last position for less than a full year, no end-of-service gratuity is payable. However, the employer should make payment in respect of salary due from the date of the last monthly payment up to the date of death plus any days of annual leave accrued but not taken. Any life assurance that the company provides should be paid in the same way.

My company has just made me redundant. I've asked for my end-of-service gratuity to be paid to me by cheque but the company will not do this. I have some debts and don't want my bank to take the money as I will need it until I secure a new job. Is it legal for a company to refuse to pay the gratuity by cheque as they are saying they will only pay it as a bank transfer? If that is the case, can it be paid to another bank account? HS, Abu Dhabi

A gratuity payment is treated as a salary payment and all employers registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation must subscribe to the Wages Protection System and make payments through bank transfers. While this is not mandatory for most free zones, many companies have proper salary payment systems in place and so the gratuity will be paid by bank transfer. Only a few companies will make a payment by cheque but they do not have to. It is perfectly legal to make all payments by bank transfer.

A company is obliged to mark the last payment to an employee as "final salary" and also to make salary payments in the proper manner. If a person has debt, it is common for a bank to freeze an account to ensure that at least part of the liability can be covered. In theory, an employer could make a gratuity payment to another account but this is not recommended practice and could be in breach of the loan agreement as most are linked to a salary account. The employer does not have to make two payments and can state they will pay to the main account as usual.

HS can withdraw the cash he has in his account before the final salary payment is made. This is why it is always advisable to have an emergency fund in a separate account, in case of such situations.

Under Dubai Health Authority rules, is it permitted for people to have two medical insurance plans running concurrently? I want to arrange more comprehensive cover than my employer's scheme, which is very basic and limits the hospitals and clinics I can visit. MC, Dubai

Under DHA rules, people are permitted to have two medical insurance plans running concurrently and this situation is not uncommon where a person would like to have more comprehensive cover than their employer's policy. Any claims made, however, can only be from one of the policies and “double claiming” would invalidate the terms and conditions of both policies.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only