UAE Labour Law: What is COVID-19 Pandemic Redundancy?

By Al-hamid
  • October 24, 2023
  • 5 min read

COVID-19 has caused an unprecedented set of challenges for people and businesses. UAE businesses have been affected by this problem, so employers and employees might have questions about this situation. What does the Labour Law say about isolation or sick pay in times of a global pandemic?

In this article, we will show you how these laws create a path for companies to deal with the problems caused by the pandemic. Therefore, they can still be productive while keeping their working staff safe.

1. Defining Work Redundancy

2. What does UAE Labour Law say about redundancy?

3. What should employers consider in the UAE legislation?

4. How is the UAE’s government supporting employers?

5. Which resolution is protecting employees’ rights?

6. What should you do after termination due to redundancy?

7. How can you comply with the Labour Law?

8. How can you get legal advice on this matter?

1. Defining work redundancy

Employees worldwide are concerned about firings caused by redundancy. They might get fired from their jobs despite their performance or their behaviour.

Economic crisis, decreasing sales, and workplace relocation are some reasons why employees might get let go from their jobs. It can happen even to valuable employees. Circumstances created by COVID-19 can lead to the termination of their contracts.

This virus has presented challenges for companies concerning workplace safety and productivity. Budgets might get lowered, income may decrease, and productivity can be affected because of COVID-19. Therefore, work redundancy is a real threat for businesses today.

Nonetheless, last year, the UAE started a discussion about the labour law to deal with the pandemic. This discussion has produced some resolutions that might be helpful to deal with the current health crisis.

2. What does UAE Labour Law say about redundancy?

In 2020, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) issued its Ministerial resolution No. 279. In this resolution, we can find the first official statement regarding work redundancy created by the local government. It shows a path to follow for businesses affected by the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Furthermore, this resolution offers the possibility of reshuffling business structures if companies have to. It is important to note that this resolution does not include termination clauses under its rules. However, it opens the possibility to justify those decisions if they were the only alternative to preserve businesses afloat.

For this reason, the main goal of the labour law is to offer options to protect the relationship between workers and employers. The local government is prompting businesses to develop alternatives to reduce infections. It is the reason why authorities are suggesting the adoption of the following decisions when possible:

  • Create remote work alternatives for employees to keep doing their chores while staying at home.
  • Granting paid leave to workers infected by COVID-19.
  • Allowing employees that want to ask for unpaid leave when they consider themselves at risk.
  • Offering the possibility of salary reductions if there is a mutual agreement between workers and employers. These reductions can be temporary or permanent depending on the terms agreed by the parts involved.

2. What should employers consider in the UAE legislation?

We must consider some points that we can find in the current government legislation about these topics. Currently, the labour law offers clarity about what to do when a worker is sick or needs an unpaid leave. Therefore, we want to look at what lawyers inside the UAE might tell you about these concerns.

3.1 Sick pay

The Labour law in the UAE establishes that workers are entitled to 90 days of sick leave. COVID-19 is amongst those illnesses that can cause severe consequences to our health and affect our colleagues and employers. For that reason, this virus is like any other disease that can be eligible for sick leave payment.

Under the current labour law, the first 15 days are payable in full. In the following 30 days, workers will receive only half of their salary. The remaining days will be unpaid. Some company laws might offer some benefits to their workers if they need to be absent during sickness. However, these practices are not mandatory if these decisions are outside what the labour law establishes.

3.2 Self isolation

The current UAE labour law does not mention anything regarding self-isolation. We must consider that our current context has no precedent that can lead us to a course of action. Nevertheless, it is well established that employers have no obligation to pay those employees that decide to stay home.

Nonetheless, employers should consider the implementation of flexible work schedules or remote alternatives to keep productivity going. Employees can feel safe while contributing to their employers at home. It is necessary to sign agreements between workers and employers to make everything official.

3.3 Unpaid leaves

Employers cannot ask their workers to take unpaid leaves if there are no reasons to. It is considered a breach of contract, so employees can effectively issue a lawsuit to their employers if this happens. Moreover, unpaid leaves cannot proceed without a previous certified agreement between both parties.

Companies have to pay workers even if they ask them to stay home on working days. So the best course of action is to build an agreement between workers and companies to reduce work schedules while COVID-19 is around.

3.4 Annual leaves

According to UAE labour law, employers can grant paid annual leaves to employees if they have enough leave balance available. Both parties can also agree on unpaid leaves or remote work if they sign proper documents.

This documentation needs to show the terms of the arrangement made by both parties. For instance, it needs to highlight how much money workers accumulated during their time working for the company. In the case of unpaid leaves, labour law requires companies to establish how much time workers will be without work.

3.5 Workers routine outside their workplace

Employers are not legally able to control what their personnel do outside their workplace. Therefore, companies cannot prohibit anything that is not work-related to their employees. However, they can gently ask their workers to take the measures needed to prevent COVID-19 infections.

Nevertheless, workers should inform their companies if they feel symptoms related to COVID-19 to preserve health amongst colleagues. Employers should grant sick leaves if a worker gets sick.

3.6 Company laws and special benefits

Each company laws may offer some benefits that will be previously agreed upon with their employees. Nevertheless, these settlements must be put on a document that shows every detail about these special arrangements.

Since there is an official settlement between workers and employers, companies have submitted these agreements to local authorities beforehand. Therefore, companies should comply with their protocols even in hard times.

3.7 Workplace risk

COVID-19 is not a risk listed under the labour law. For instance, if an employee contracts the virus while working, they cannot ask for compensation.

3.8 COVID-19 testing

Since March of 2021, some productive sectors require that their unvaccinated employees present results of PCR COVID testing. Hotel, restaurant, transportation, and health sectors are amongst those workers that need to show proof of this kind of test. Otherwise, they might be subject to sanctions that lead to firings or temporary suspensions.

4. How is the UAE’s government supporting employers?

The UAE’s government understands the situation that companies are facing. Because of this, authorities issued policies that will help establish remote working alternatives. Furthermore, MoHRE created a resolution that plans to help regulate working from home as an option to keep productivity rolling.

In 2020, resolution 281 emerged to protect workers and employers best interests while remote working. These governmental decisions established rules that both parties must comply with to regulate operations and ensure work efficiency. We will list some of the main points of this resolution:

  • Workers have to do their tasks in the specific timeframes previously agreed with their employers.
  • Confidentiality remains vital, so employees cannot reveal confidential information even at home.
  • Companies have to provide everything workers may need to complete their duties at home.

While this resolution is still non-binding, authorities issued these suggestions to promote alternatives that maintain productivity in these difficult times.

5. Which resolution is protecting employees’ rights?

Resolution 279 shows how to protect workers’ rights during the pandemic. For instance, companies cannot unilaterally:

  • Reduce workers’ salaries. Employees and companies need a previous agreement between them, and there should be a notification to MoHRE authorities. This notification should include information about previous contracts and the newly agreed ones.
  • Companies cannot ask for unpaid leaves without the consent of their workers. However, employers have the right to give annual leaves to their employees if they have enough money paid leave accumulated.

Protecting the relationship between companies and workers has become a priority for our local government. Understanding the challenges presented by COVID-19 will help develop labour law and company laws that are helpful for both parties. You might need legal advice to comply with these resolutions, so you may be interested in learning why your company needs legal assistance.

6. What should you do after termination due to redundancy?

Companies have to register affected workers on the virtual job market to help them get a new job. If they were foreign employees, companies must provide everything agreed beforehand except salary.

Furthermore, current labour law prohibits employers from recruiting foreign workers while the pandemic is ongoing. If they need new employees, they should post their vacancies on the virtual job market to find workers. You can learn everything about firings and hiring by contacting our team of lawyers.

7. How can you comply with the Labour Law?

First, we should note that companies have no obligation to implement remote work for their productive task under labour law. However, we suggest employers seek viable alternatives for companies and employees to keep business going. Remote work or flexible work schedules might be a perfect solution in these peculiar times.

Company laws are a fundamental part of the relations between the company and its workers. There might be genuine concerns about well being between employees. Therefore, a business should discuss changes in work schedules and remote alternatives that allow workers to remain safe while being productive.

There is always a risk that a business might need to reduce its personnel under redundancy circumstances. However, redundancy does not always lead to terminations, so workers and employers should sign agreements to prevent this. Temporary unpaid leaves and reducing working hours can allow employees to keep their jobs without affecting their business.

Nonetheless, these arrangements should be agreed upon by employers and employees alike with the appropriate legal advice. This way, both parties know how to comply with their agreements.

8. How can you get legal advice on this matter?

We presented some of the main points regarding redundancy and UAE labour law related to this topic. You might have some more questions about dealing with the problems that these difficult times present. Would you like some more information? Do you want legal advice about redundancy? Contact us! Connect Legal has a team of lawyers with the expertise you need to deal with these problems. We can also offer help if you want to reshuffle your business structure to comply with UAE’s requirements.

Would you like to contact us to learn more information about redundancy or labour law in the UAE? If you have any questions, call us on + 971 43316688. Email us at [email protected] and you will talk to one of our representatives who will answer your questions. Visit our webpage for more info.

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