The banks and the airlines in the UAE have recently partnered to offer credit cards that accumulate air miles for customers. In August last year, I applied for an Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB) credit card that was co-branded with Etihad Airways. The card cost me an annual fee of Dh1,000 and I was promised a sign-on bonus of 25,000 guest miles. After more than six months, I have still not received my miles. The bank blames the airline and the airline blames the bank. For me, this situation is particularly upsetting because I had intended to put the Etihad miles towards a ticket to visit my family in Canada. CM, Abu Dhabi
This issue was referred to the relevant department at ADCB because, in this situation, it is the responsibility of the bank to ensure that the relevant incentive is paid. The matter was investigated and a spokesperson for the bank advised: "In reply to the complaint, please note that as per the card promotion the customer should get 25,000 Etihad miles after paying the credit-card fee of Dh1,000. However, the customer card was blocked under lost status when the card centre generated the reward report from the system. As a result, the card was not included in the report. Therefore, and as service gesture, we have credited the miles manually to the card." CM is delighted to finally receive her missing miles and will be putting them towards a flight to visit her family.
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Many years ago, I invested in a number of investment trusts in the UK. For personal reasons, I now need to cash these in, but I'd like to know if I will have to pay any tax on them. I haven't touched the investments for many years and I left the UK in 2002. I hope you can help as I have tried to find information, but have become thoroughly confused about the different types of tax and funds. GM, Dubai
A UK Investment Trust is a closed-ended fund listed on the London Stock Exchange and invests primarily in a diversified portfolio of shares and securities, and other assets including property, bonds and cash. They are subject to special tax rules, which means gains made by the trust itself when its portfolio investments are sold are free from UK tax. Individual holders of investment trusts may be subject to UK capital gains tax when these holdings are sold, dependent on their personal situation. UK residents and those who have been non-residents for less than five full tax years will be liable for tax at either 18 per cent or 28 per cent, depending on their total UK income, on any gains above the annual personal allowance, which stands at £10,100 (Dh58,929) in the 2010/11 tax year. This will increase to £10,600 for the 2011/12 tax year. For any UK nationals who have been non-residents for more than five full tax years, as is the case for GM, there will be no tax liability on any profits realised.
I accepted a contract to work in Abu Dhabi for a three-year period from January 2009. When I returned from holiday in August 2010, I was asked to report to HR and was handed an envelope that stated: "It is regrettable that your services are no longer required." There was no consultation, discussion nor any explanation, which I am surely owed. I received two months' pay and benefits per my contracted period of notice, but the company refused to pay my wife's airfare home despite my contract being "married status". The company also deducted three months of rental costs for the lease period remaining after my two months' notice. Can I employ a lawyer to take action against the company? FG, UK
If an individual is on a limited or fixed-term contract, the employer can cancel it at any time without having to provide any explanation, providing the employee is compensated according to terms of the employment contract, which must comply with the UAE Labour Law. If the employer terminates a limited contract, for reasons other than those specified in Article 120 of the law (which covers incompetence, dishonesty and fraudulent behaviour), the employer is liable to pay compensation based on three months' salary or for the remainder of the contract, whichever is less. As for entitlement to the cost of the airfare for FG's wife, this depends on the specific wording of the contract. If it specifically stated that family flights would be paid in this situation, then the company should pay, but the law states that the employer is responsible for the repatriation of the employee only to a place agreed upon by both parties. Only if the employer paid for the family (and shipping of belongings) at the start of the employment will it be liable in this situation and then only if clearly stated in the contract of employment. The situation regarding the lease is unclear, but it sounds as if the company was paying the rent and deducting the payments from the salary. Once again, entitlement is all down to the wording of the employment contract. If you have been treated unfairly and contract terms were broken, you have the right to make a complaint to the Ministry of Labour. You could employ a lawyer, but that would be very expensive and probably not worth it for the amount in question.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.