Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

‘Will a temporary secondment affect my end-of-service payment?’

The Abu Dhabi resident has been temporarily assigned to work at a company branch outside the UAE

A blank cheque ready for signing. Banks in the Gulf could seek mergers as a way of offsetting pressure on revenues, ratings agency Moody's said. istockphoto.com
A blank cheque ready for signing. Banks in the Gulf could seek mergers as a way of offsetting pressure on revenues, ratings agency Moody's said. istockphoto.com

If my UAE employer asks me to work on a secondment for a branch of the company in another GCC country, will the time on secondment outside the Emirates count towards my UAE service? My main employment remains with the UAE branch. I am interested to know if this would affect my end-of-service gratuity in any way. DB, Abu Dhabi

When a person is employed under a UAE contract of employment, then all the days they work are considered part of their period of service. This applies even if they are working for the company on a temporary basis elsewhere as they are legally employed and paid in the UAE. This should only change if the individual has a new contract and is paid in another country, but I always recommend that employees get confirmation in writing from their employer to avoid any potential disagreements at a later date.

My company terminated me on July 9 without giving any notice. They are saying they will cancel my visa but when I ask them for the cancellation letter to apply for another visa, they refuse and say that I have to pay Dh1,800 to cover a destruction charge. My employer claims that I caused damage at a site where I was working. The employer says they will return my passport only after I have paid this amount. Please tell me what can I do and also what benefits am I entitled to as I worked for them for eight months. CD, Sharjah

A company can only terminate service without notice if a) the employee is still in a probationary period, which is not the case here, or b) if they have broken a law or rule under Article 120 of the UAE Labour Law.

Given the claim of destruction, this could be an incident under one of the following two clauses in Article 120: C – Should the worker commit an error resulting in colossal material losses to the employer, provided that the Labour Department is notified of the incident within 48 hours of the knowledge of the occurrence thereof; [or] D – Should the worker violate the instructions related to the safety at work or in the workplace provided that such instructions be written and posted in a prominent location, and that he is notified thereof should he be illiterate.”

If this is the reason, the employer can terminate an employee without notice but if not, the standard period of notice would have to be given.

In respect of the fine, there are limits in the law and the employer cannot simply request payment for the cost of any damage. Article 104 of the Labour Law states: “The fine may be a specific amount or an amount equal to the wage of the worker for a specific period. The fine prescribed with regards to one breach may not exceed the wage of five days. Furthermore, for the settlement of the fines imposed on the worker, a maximum amount equal to the wage of five days may be deducted from the wage of the worker per month.”

There is no such thing as a “destruction charge” in the Labour Law, so Article 104 will apply. CD will need to calculate the maximum amount payable based on his salary and if the employer is asking for more than the law allows, he will need to take up the issue with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. I also suggest this is done if the employer illegally retains the passport for any longer than the few days required to cancel a visa.

In respect of any benefits due, assuming termination is in accordance with Article 120, CD is only entitled to payment for the days worked. No end-of-service gratuity is payable to anyone who has worked for less than a full calendar year and this is forfeited if someone is terminated under Article 120.

[An employee] will not be in any trouble for losing her identity card provided it is replaced without delay

Keren Bobker

I have lost my Emirates identity card. I dare not tell my boss but can I replace it myself? Will I get in trouble for this? FT, Dubai

Firstly, FT will not be in any trouble for losing her identity card provided it is replaced without delay and she can arrange this herself. It is a simple process and anyone can go to a Customer Happiness Centre to request a card in person. It is now also possible to apply online via the ICA smart app, a facility set up by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship.

Documents required are a copy of the Emirates ID card (if available, although I recommend everyone to keep a copy), passport and residency visa, while the turnaround time is usually five working days. The total cost will be about Dh370.

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

Updated: September 26, 2020 01:20 PM

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