UAE: New COVID-19 Rules For Workers
All citizens and residents of the Emirate of Dubai must isolate for at least 10 days if they contract COVID-19. Given that COVID-19 is an illness, an employee who has completed their probationary period should be entitled to claim 10 days or more (depending on the severity of the symptoms) as part of their sick leave entitlement.
What happens when employees with no sick leave balance contract COVID-19?
If the employee has used their sick leave entitlement during that year, the employer may deduct such additional days from other statutory leaves, such as annual leave, for instance.
How many days of sick leave can public sector employees take?
From February 2, private sector and federal government employees are entitled to a 90-day sick leave for every year of service. Regarding public sector employees, there is no single legislative instrument to apply federally, as each Emirate has its own legislation in this regard.
What if an employee on probation has COVID-19 and their contract allows no paid leaves during probation?
The New Labour Law states that if an employee did not complete their probationary period, then they are not entitled to sick leaves. However, the employer may choose to grant such an employee an unpaid sick leave.
Do employees take sick leave after close contact with a positive COVID-19 case?
The first important action to take is to inform the employer of the situation, get tested, and work from home (if the nature of employment allows the employee to work remotely) until the test result is received; otherwise, take that day as sick leave. If test results confirm that the employee has contracted COVID-19, the employee may agree with the employer to work from home (if the nature of employment and employee’s health condition allows that) until the employee recovers or claim the isolation period as sick leave.
If a recovered COVID-19 case has contact with someone infected, are they still eligible for sick leave?
Yes, the same rule will apply as if contracted for the first time.
If COVID-19 patients, especially asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, continue their work from home despite their diagnosis, how does the law apply?
The New Labour Law is silent in this regard, thereby providing flexibility to each Emirate and the employers in deciding the “work from home” system internally.
What provisions in the labor law, currently in effect, govern working from home?
The “work from home” system was never a statutory right under the old labor law or a statutory right under the New Labour Law. The “work from home” system was introduced by a ministerial decision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (“MOHRE”) during the public health crisis caused by COVID-19. Currently, the “work from home” policy is dictated between employees and employers as they deem fit for the organization.
Will any current provisions apply differently for COVID-19 leave after the new labor law comes into effect on February 2?
There are a few changes. Under the old law, an employee had only 2 days to report their illness to the employee. The employer was obligated to facilitate a medical examination of such an employee. The New Labor Law provides the employee with 3 days to report an illness and lifts the responsibility from the employer to facilitate a medical examination. It is now an employee’s responsibility to provide a medical report.
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