On Your Side: Employers must provide air tickets for departing staff

The National's consumer advocate on a company's responsibility to repatriate workers, untangling a debt repayment scheme at Dubai Islamic Bank, contesting unpaid wages and finding an internationally accredited notary.

Our advocate was successful in getting Dubai Islamic Bank to negotiate the terms of a loan repayment. Ryan Carter / The National
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My brother has an unlimited labour contract dated April 26, 2010. The same date is shown as the issue date in the employment visa stamped in his passport. He submitted a letter of resignation on May 1, 2012, and his last working day was May 30 as per the acknowledgement letter issued by the company. His visa was cancelled on May 20 and he has until June 19 to leave the UAE. But then he was told that the company would not provide him with a one-way ticket to our home country as he did not complete three years of work with the company. Is this correct? AV Dubai

The employer is acting incorrectly and Article 131 of the UAE Labour Law clearly states: "Expenses for repatriation of an employee to his place of origin or any other place agreed upon by both parties shall be borne by the employer. If the employee after the end of his contract takes up employment somewhere else, repatriation expenses upon termination of his service shall be paid by the last employer subject to the provisions in the preceding clauses, and if the employer has failed to repatriate the employee and has not paid the repatriation expenses, the competent authorities shall do this at the employer's expense by way of attachment." As AV's brother has left of his own accord and does not intend to remain in the UAE, it is the employer's legal responsibility to pay for his travel costs back to his country of origin, no matter how long he has been permanently employed.

Some time ago, I agreed to be the guarantor on a personal loan for a friend. She then lost her job, got into arrears and left the country. I understood what I was signing and am aware that the payments are now my responsibility, but I have been having an issue with Dubai Islamic Bank as it has been taking my full salary each month to pay the debt. This is leaving me in a very difficult situation, but I cannot speak to anyone at the bank about it. It's not that I won't pay, but I cannot live without any salary at all. Can you do something to help me? I am desperate and my own rent is due shortly. MA Dubai

I had some initial difficulties dealing with Dubai Islamic Bank because we were at a stalemate and the collections department was still chasing MA for payments. Eventually, the marketing and corporate communications departments became involved and it meant we were able to mediate and find a solution acceptable to all parties at a meeting. A bank spokesperson said: "Upon receiving the inquiry, Dubai Islamic Bank made significant efforts to identify how the bank might be able to assist MA. Following a meeting with the customer, we were able to agree on a fair solution, which will ease MA's current financial position and the matter has been resolved to her satisfaction." MA is very happy with the efforts from The National to assist her and can now manage the debt repayments.

During 2010, I worked for a company that did not pay our salaries for more than six months. Eventually, all employees were forced to take the case to the Ministry of Labour in Abu Dhabi. We were awarded a sum commensurate with our claims and the ministry did an excellent job doing what it could to get our money from our ex-employer. However, the ex-employer refuses to pay as the company was an LLC (Limited Liability Company) and has no assets. How can we get our claims settled? The owner is driving around in his luxury car, the other two directors have high-ranking jobs. Can I approach the Ruler's Court for help? JC Abu Dhabi

It is unacceptable that an employer won't pay employees, despite a court judgment to that effect. My belief is that the individuals are liable and they are in contempt of court for ignoring the ruling. I suggest that you lodge an appeal with the court and also refer back to the Ministry of Labour for its assistance.

I am an American citizen residing in Abu Dhabi and I need to get some documents notarised. I know there are local notaries, but it seems that this will not be acceptable. Do you know anywhere that I could get this done that would be OK for use in the US? MR Abu Dhabi

The US Embassy in Abu Dhabi offers a notary service. You have to make an appointment online via its website, http://abudhabi.usembassy.gov, and then go along to the embassy at the set time. You need to take the document (before signing it) with your passport for proof of identity. If the document needs to be witnessed, you should take someone who can do this. The fee for each notary seal is US$50 or the equivalent in dirhams (Dh183.66).

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com or onyourside@thenational.ae.