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  • UAE Ministerial (MOHRE) Resolutions in Response to COVID-19

UAE Ministerial (MOHRE) Resolutions in Response to COVID-19

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has allowed private sector businesses affected by the COVID-19 measures to restructure the contractual relationship with employees. These contractual changes are to be made in mutual agreement through gradual procedures.

The UAE MOHRE has recently issued two new Ministerial Resolutions in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • Employment Stability Resolution (Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020 on Employment Stability in the Private Sector During the Period of Application of Precautionary Measures to Curb the Spread of Novel Coronavirus issued on 26 March 2020) and
  • Remote Working Resolution (Ministerial Resolution No. (281) of 2020 Regulating Remote Work in Private Establishments During the Period of Application of Precautionary Measures to Curb the Spread of Novel Coronavirus, issued on 29 March 2020)

These resolutions apply to all businesses onshore UAE and in its free zones (who operate under the remit of the MOHRE) during the application of the precautionary COVID-19 measures by the UAE government.

The Employment Stability Resolution aims to protect the position of non-UAE national employees in the private sector during the application of the precautionary COVID-19 measures by the UAE government.

The Employment Stability Resolution provides that affected employers shall progressively take the following five steps with the relevant employee (steps 3, 4 and 5 requiring employee consent):

1. Implement remote working;

2. Grant paid leave;

3. Grant unpaid leave;

4. Temporary salary reduction; and

5. Permanent salary reduction.

Companies willing to reduce the wages of a non-citizen employee temporarily during this period are obligated to do the following:

  • Prepare a “temporary additional supplement” to the MOHRE labour contract between the two parties (in a form provided by MOHRE) with the reduction in salary being valid until the period stipulated in the supplement or until the end of the validity of this decision, whichever comes first;
  • If required, renew the supplement referred to above with the approval of both parties; and
  • Prepare two copies of the supplement, one for each party, to enable the employer to disclose its copy upon request by the MOHRE.

Where the salary is to be permanently reduced, the employer must apply to the MOHRE for the MOHRE labour contract to be amended and obtain the approval of the Ministry in accordance with the procedures in force.

Business affected by COVID-19 can reduce their staff strength, but the surplus staff must be registered in the ministry's virtual job market so that they can be hired by other companies. The decision makes it mandatory for companies to provide the employees with accommodation and other dues, but not salaries, while they are made redundant.

An employer that wants to employ a new non-citizen worker while the restriction on issuance of new residency visas is in place, must make the job opportunity available, and hire individuals registered, on the Virtual Labour Market. Any new employment offered as a result must make use of permits provided by the MOHRE online, which cover transfers to new employers, temporary work permits and part-time work permits.

This resolution aims to reduce the attendance of workers in the private sector establishments in the UAE to the minimum necessary for the conduct of business, subject to a maximum cap of 30 per cent of the total number of employees. Establishments are also required to minimise the number of customers visiting to 30% of the seating capacity and to consider other controls, including maintaining safe distances and continuous disinfection of devices and facilities.

Offering a clarification on the regulation of remote work in the private sector, the MOHRE explained that the following sectors are exempt:

  • Financial sector establishments, including banks, exchange centers and money transfer outlets;
  • Companies in the food industry, including those that manufacture and distribute food;
  • Establishments in the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants, and catering companies;
  • Companies and factories that produce sterilisation and cleaning materials and medical equipment, as well as those that offer cleaning services;
  • Healthcare facilities, including hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical factories, clinics, and other medical services; and
  • Infrastructure sector companies, including those that are involved in road and bridge works, water services, sanitation resources, electricity and communication networks, building and construction sites, contracting and construction firms, engineering consultants, energy companies (oil companies, oil refineries, power plants, gas stations, fuel sales and distribution).

The ability to remote work applies to all workers whose job does not require their physical presence at work (subject to approval by their employer's HR department), with priority given to:

  • Pregnant women;
  • Those aged 55 and above;
  • People of determination;
  • People suffering from respiratory or chronic diseases; and
  • Mothers of children in grade 9 and below.

The resolution stipulates compliance with the precautionary and preventive measures by all workers whose jobs require physical presence at workplaces or labour accommodations. Under these measures, private entities must provide screening devices at their entrances to take temperature and check symptoms of the virus among workforce daily twice: before entry in the morning and upon return for evening shifts. Suspected cases should be prohibited from going to work or entering their accommodations before referring them to relevant health authorities.

The decision calls upon these entities to put in place a mechanism for transporting workers to and from their workplaces, ensuring that the number of transported workers should not exceed 25 percent of vehicle seating capacity.

The Remote Work Resolution has attached to it a Temporary Guide Regulating Remote Work (the Guide). All private establishments are obliged to implement the procedures set out in the Guide.

Employer Obligations Include: Providing necessary technical tools to perform the work remotely; putting in place mechanisms for the management of remote work, such as determining working hours; ensuring the availability of a safe technological environment, which ensures data privacy and regulates login credentials; observing remote workers to ensure their observance of working hours and completion of assigned tasks; and facilitating the communication of remote workers with their colleagues, management and leadership, including providing of video conference platforms.

Employee Obligations Include: Obtaining employer’s approval for remote work; reporting to their workplace when required; performing tasks within set timeframes; being reachable by phone or email to ensure continuous communication depending on business needs; maintaining confidentiality and utilizing working hours to perform tasks; providing employer with proof of accomplishments and productivity; and maintaining remote working devices provided by the employer in good condition and returning them whenever requested.

How long will employers and employees be subject to the Resolution?

A formal timeframe has not been identified at this time (subject to further government announcements).

We understand that many of you are experiencing unprecedented challenges at this difficult time. Our professionals are working together to ensure you receive the necessary support and focus. We are ready to discuss all possible solutions to help you during this crisis and maintain continuity of service.


Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020

UAE Ministry regulates employer-employee relations in private sector

Regulating Remote Work System In Private Sector

UAE issues decree to regulate private sector jobs, salaries

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