UAE Employment Law Changes in 2020

The COVID19 outbreak has rattled the global economy and forced many countries to make amends to its labor law as a response. The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization also introduced three ministerial decisions in 2020. The decisions 279, 280, and 281 all introduce 2020 UAE labor law changes meant to bring stability for employers and employees.

Ministerial Decision 279

Decision no 279 contains important rules and regulations regarding essential decisions that are meant to regulate employment stability in the private sector for non-UAE national employees. The decree implements temporary changes that are critical during the coronavirus outbreak.

Main Highlights

  • Regulations governing remote work
  • Granting of paid and unpaid leaves
  • Temporary wage reduction
  • Permanent wage reduction

Ministerial Decision 280

The UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization also issued a ministerial decree, 280, ordering the formation of a committee to oversee the protection of all UAE national employees’ rights amid the coronavirus outbreak. Decision 280 is also relevant only until the precautionary period for COVID19.

Among other things, the committee will be tasked with the responsibility of:

  • The development of support packages to preserve the rights of UAE nationals employed in the private sector.
  • The supervision of the implementation of supportive and protective regulations laid out in the ministerial decision no 212 of 2018.
  • Reviewing unethical termination of UAE nationals working in the private sector.

Article no 4 of the decree also states that the ministry must deploy all necessary organizational units to support the committee. It ensures that a lack of resource availability does not hinder the committee’s work.

Ministerial Decision 281

Lastly, decision 281 provides a temporary guideline for the extraordinary employment and work situation in the UAE. It provides rules and regulations that govern remote work in the private sector. Like the other changes, decision 281 is only effective as long as precautionary measures to limit the spread of COVID19 remain in place.

Article 1 Main Highlights

  • All private companies are required to limit workforce presence and mobility to the maximum extent possible.
  • Under no circumstance can a company call upon more than 30% of its employees to be physically present until the spread of COVID19 is no longer a threat.
  • Companies must also limit the presence of visitors and customers to a maximum of 30% of its overall seating capacity

Article 2 Main Highlights

  • All companies must take precautionary measures
  • They must install screening points at all entrances
  • Prohibit workers with symptoms of coronavirus from entering the premises
  • Companies must report all suspected patients to the Health Ministry
  • Limit the number of employees traveling in the same vehicle to 25% of the vehicle’s capacity.

Article 4 contains necessary guidelines for employers and employees to ensure easy work access to all those working remotely. The government also introduced the Early Leave Initiative to its 2020 UAE Labor law changes. However, no reference to the initiative was made in decree 279; thus, its formal implementation is still pending.

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