In the UAE: MOHRE Decisions due to COVID-19

Written By - Mostafa Shawky, Associate
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On 26th of March 2020, the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (“MOHRE”) published Ministerial Decree no. 279/2020 (“the Decree”) to protect the position of the Non-Emirati Employees (the “Employee(s)”) and to organize the relationship between the Employees and the Employer as a result of the precautionary measures taken during COVID-19 outbreak.

The Decree stated that establishments that have been affected during COVID-19 outbreak may restructure their position by applying the below options gradually, with the agreement of the Employee (for steps from 3 to 5 only):

  • Working from home (MOHRE issued a guide on how this applies);
  • Paid leave;
  • Unpaid leave;
  • Temporary salary reduction;
  • Permanent salary reduction.

To apply Temporary Salary Reduction the following shall be undertaken:

  • Signing a temporary annex ( the “Annex”) of the employment contract with the Employee. This Annex shall expire automatically at the end of its term or until the Decree become invalid, whichever is earlier;
  • Annex to be renewed by both parties consent; and
  • Annex shall be made in two copies, one for each party and the Employer is obliged to provide the Annex to MOHRE once requested.

Employers that will apply a Permanent Salary Reduction to their Employees shall apply for MOHRE approval in order to amend the Employment Contract.

Affected establishments that have an excessive number of Employees shall register their Employees on the Virtual Labour Market Platform (the “Platform”) at https://careers.mohre.gov.ae/ so the Employees shown as available for other establishments on the Platform. Housing allowance and all of entitlements due to the Employees shall be paid until the Employee leaves the UAE or work for another employer.

Establishments that are hiring new Employees at this time shall:

  • Advertise available vacancies on the Platform;
  • Consider the Employees listed on the Platform for hiring if they fit their needs;
  • Apply for internal work permits granted by MOHRE on its electronic systems.

This Decree shall be valid only during the precautionary measures related to COVID-19 outbreak.

On 30th of March 2020 the National Program to Support the Stability of the Labour Market in the Private Sector has been launched.

In supporting the Private Sector MOHRE has allowed establishments to:

  • Obtain and renew work permits for their Employees regardless any restrictions applied on the establishment;
  • Renew work permits without requiring the renewal of the expired permits for 6 months;
  • To issue new internal work permits on professions of the third skill level without applying the “Scientific Certificate” requirement;
  • Immediately return their bank guarantee once renewing the work permit and insurance for their workers exempting them from the period stated in the wage protection system.

On 5th of April 2020 and in implementation of the Decree, MOHRE issued a decision to clarify the following:

Establishments that agree with their Employees to leave the UAE for the time being shall:

  • Specify the duration of the leave by signing an additional annex to the employment contract.
  • Book a round trip flight ticket for the Employee.

The relationship between the Employer and the Employee will remain and this shall be considered as an early unpaid leave and all other Employee’s entitlements are reserved as per the Labour Law. The residency of that Employee will be automatically extended if their visas expired during the unpaid leave outside the UAE. The above mentioned annex template is published and is available on MOHRE website.

If you are interested to know more about these new decisions, please send us on lucy@levarilaw.com