I have a question about employees under their probation period in the UAE. I have worked as an accounts assistant for a group of companies for three months now and am still under probation. I was given a visa designation as a secretary even though I am a certified public accountant. If I leave my company now, will I have to repay my employer for all the expenses they have paid to me - such as visa and health card processing? Will I get a ban for leaving the job? What if I finish the full six-month probation period? Will I still have to pay any penalty to my employer or are there any benefits that I am entitled to? PG, Ras Al Khaimah
As this makes a significant difference to options on leaving a job, it was first established that PG is on an unlimited contact. An unlimited contract makes it easier to leave a position but provides less protection if made redundant.
Even if someone is in their probation period, they should still give formal notice to leave although it is something of a grey area with little clarity in the law. PG will have to give 30 days’ notice.
Under no circumstances is an employer permitted to pass on the costs of employing someone and this has been confirmed by the UAE Government on numerous occasions and also stated in Ministerial Order 52 of 1989, Article 6. Indeed, even UAE Labour Law makes reference to this in Article 60 which states: "No amount of money may be deducted from a worker’s wage in respect of private claims", with a number of defined exemptions which do not include leaving employment.
When someone is on an unlimited contract they are less likely to receive a ban than someone on a limited contract that leaves within six months. However, they can still receive a ban depending on the skill category of their job. Employees in the higher skill categories, numbers one to three, will not face a ban in this situation but workers in skill categories four and five can only move to another employer without a six-month ban after completing a period of not less than six months with their current employer. It does not matter that the job title in the visa does not match PG’s experience and qualifications. He should still fall into skill category 3 at least based on the current job title and educational background. However, he should not that no end of service benefits are payable to anyone who works for any company for less than a full year.
I have a problem with my credit card. My friend borrowed my credit card months ago. Initially the payments were being made by him on time but now he is not making the payments or answering my calls. Is there any way I can get out of this problem? Can I file a police case against him? SP, Dubai
I understand that SP gave her credit card to her friend in order that he could use it. As she did this voluntarily she cannot register a police case as she should never have done this in the first place. A credit card is a legal agreement between two parties, the cardholder and the bank, and the wording of the agreement that is signed will clearly state that the card is for the use of the individual only. Permitting someone else to use a card in this way is in breach of the agreement. While the exact wording will vary between the providers of credit cards, they will all include a phrase along the lines of, 'The usage of the card is restricted to the cardholder and for their personal use'. It will also state wording similar to, 'the cardholder shall not allow any third party to use the card for any purpose.'
The debt accumulated and the payments due are solely the responsibility of SP under the law of the UAE, and indeed in respect of credit card usage in any other country. SP has broken the terms of the agreement with the bank and if they find out they will be within their rights to cancel the card and demand immediate repayment of the full outstanding balance.
It is foolish to give a credit card to someone to use and SP must take personal responsibility here. She needs to speak to the bank to put a block on the card to ensure this erstwhile friend does not run up any further debts in her name and then try and track him down to request that he pays back the money he has spent in her name but she will not be able to register a police case in this respect.
SP should also be aware that defaulting on repayments will affect her personal credit record with Al Etihad Credit Bureau and this can affect the ability to take out future loans, mortgages and credit cards.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 25 years’ experience. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.
The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.