As days turn to weeks and months, the effects of the viral outbreak that has reached a global scale are being felt by residents in the UAE, particularly those working in the private sector, as some of them face a loss of income and potential loss of work in other extreme cases.
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However, in cases where an employee falls sick due to the coronavirus rendering them unable to report to work, the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) appealed to companies not to terminate them but instead provide them sick leaves.
Private Employees with COVID-19 Should be Given Sick Leaves, Not Terminated – Ministry
The MOHRE cited the Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 as the basis of treating coronavirus cases as normal sick cases which entitles employees to sick leaves, as shared in a report by the state news agency, WAM.
According to the Federal law, if an employee falls sick, he/she becomes entitled to sick leave for not more than 90 days (either continuous or intermittent) per each year of service, based on the following computation:
1. The first 15 days with full pay
2. The next 30 days with half pay
3. The next 45 days, without pay
In line with this, the Ministry instructed private establishments to abide by this protocol set by the law and not to terminate any employee on the basis of sickness, as this will be a legal ground for complaints, which the Ministry will deal with accordingly.
It also noted that cases that cannot be resolved amicably will be referred to the judiciary to determine whether the termination of service is arbitrary or not.
The Ministry also pointed out that the private sector should assume their social and legal responsibilities towards their employees who are infected with coronavirus, noting that the UAE is providing full and free healthcare to all infected citizens and residents.
For this reason, the Ministry reiterated the need for the private sector establishments to properly document leaves taken by their employees and any amendments that occur to their contracts.
Also, it stressed the importance for companies to pay salaries on time and document all changes to the work contracts which may include a reduction in salaries whether permanent or temporary.
As the crisis requires many companies all over the world to enforce crucial measures to cope with the losses and effects of immobilized economies, the UAE government stands by its residents who are just as affected by the crisis (if not more) than their employers or businesses they work for.
As announced last month, certain changes will be applied by companies in the UAE such as the transition to remote work as well as the changes in contracts, salaries, and employment status, where applicable.
However, during these times, the government is also appealing to employers to still look after the welfare of their employees by following regular guidelines for those who get sick as well as to document any changes in terms of manpower and resource management to ensure that no violation is being committed against the law.