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May 2020

Viewing posts from May , 2020

DIFC Employment Law Update – Presidential Directive on COVID-19

The recent DIFC Directive (No.4 of 2020) is intended to be in force until 31 July 2020 and is subject to extension (the “Emergency Period”). The DIFC Directive supersedes all other DIFC regulations during this Emergency Period.

We summarise the key measures and provisions below.

Flexibility Provisions

Heretofore, under the current DIFC Employment Law, employee consent is required for employers to impose various measures, such as reduced working hours, reduced salaries and forced unpaid leave. However, the new DIFC Directive permits employers to impose any of the following six measures with five (5) days’ written notice and without employee consent:

  1. reduced working hours;
  2. forced annual leave (this was permitted without consent, in any event);
  3. forced unpaid leave;
  4. reduced salary on a temporary basis;
  5. restricted workplace access; and
  6. remote working conditions.

These Emergency Measures are similar to those introduced by the UAE Government on 26 March 2020 by Ministerial Decision No.279/2020 (see our article here). Under Ministerial Decision No.279/2020, employers must have suffered actual losses or expect losses to be incurred before imposing measures on employees. This is not the case under the DIFC Directive. No threshold is required.

Sick Leave Provisions

  • Any sick leave taken as a consequence of having contracted COVID-19 or for being placed in quarantine by a competent UAE authority will not be counted towards an employee’s statutory sick leave entitlement (refer to our article on DIFC Employment Law here);
  • Employees will also be entitled to full pay during any COVID-19 sick leave period provided the employee can provide a sick leave certificate issued by a competent UAE authority. The DIFC Directive also confirms that an employer cannot impose any of the abovementioned emergency measures on employees during their COVID-19-related sick period.

Visa Permits

  • Employers may defer the cancellation of the residency visas and/or sponsorship of terminated employees during the Emergency Period, provided the employer continues to provide basic medical insurance to the terminated employees;
  • If an employer in the retail, service or hospitality sector provides accommodation to an employee, the provision of this accommodation must continue until the visa is cancelled.

DIFC Available Employee Database

  • Similar to the Virtual Labour Market introduced by the UAE Government (view our article on Virtual Labour Market here), all DIFC employers must maintain a list of employees during the Emergency Period. The list will include all employees that have been terminated since 1 March 2020 and any other employees that are surplus to its current needs. DIFC employers wishing to employ new employees may search the DIFC database for suitable candidates.

Contact Us

We are currently assisting clients across the UAE concerning business contingency plans and are advising both employers and employees on all employment-related aspects of COVID-19.

Should you require any assistance in navigating employment issues during the current crisis, please contact us at covidqa@adglegal.com.

Investment Opportunities in Sudan

Since independence in 1956, the Republic of Sudan has not enjoyed the opportunity to benefit from its enormous resources and rich treasures due to constant civil wars and conflicts. However, since the recent ceasefire, the situation is, at last, heading towards permanent stability. Firm foundations are now being built to stabilize the country, achieving peace and justice and consequently encouraging investors to look to Sudan for opportunities. So what does Sudan have to offer?

In addition to the known opportunities involving oil and gas, there are dozens of agricultural opportunities in crops such as cotton, peanuts and grains like corn, wheat and sesame, in addition to many fruits and vegetables. Most of these crops are grown for export abroad.

Sudan is also one of the largest producers of Arabic gum and is rich in natural and planted forests, from which wood can be used in building products or manufacturing.

Investment is being encouraged in agricultural projects, with the government having marked over 2 million acres of land for investors. Further opportunities for investment lie in livestock, being one of the biggest meat exporters worldwide.

Turning to mining, the country has yielded nearly 250 tons of gold in the past year and there remains significant virgin land available for expansion. This is to say nothing of other metals, where many prospects remain.

The establishment of modern hospitals provide further opportunity, with medical aid companies taking further advantage of the Investment Law to introduce equipment without customs or taxes, as well as profiting from contracting with medical insurance companies and other agencies in Sudan.

It is also hoped that tourism may flourish in the coming years, with over 400 km of land along the Nile available for the development of luxury hotels and restaurants, museums and the potential for sports tourism by way of golf courses. This is in addition to the many historic sites which could support further tourists – such as the pyramids of Meroe.

The scope for expansion and investment are many, but what are the requirements of investors and are there any advantages and guarantees given to potential investors in Sudan?

Investors are obliged to implement their project within a two years of the issue date of their license, with requirements that they notify the authority of any amendments that occur during the implementation stages and the submission of bi-annual reports.

In return, the authority may approve an investment project with guarantees such as tax and fee exemptions. Investments projects are protected so that confiscations and the seizure, freezing or confiscating of funds is not permissible without a court order, and compensation and recovery of invested funds, machinery, equipment are available for projects that are not implemented.

Importantly, guarantees granted by the administrative bodies cannot legally be withheld. Indeed, the authority may grant additional advantages.

In addition to exemption from fees and customs duties, the minister at the national level may recommend opportunities, such as lands allocated by the various authorities, and numerous accounting and tax benefits.

Further advantages may be granted to those projects deemed to be of greatest benefit to Sudan, such as those directed to less developed areas, helping to achieve integrated rural development and providing work opportunities for local communities.

Projects providing social services contributing to the advancement of the region are also encouraged, as are those that boost charitable endowment or renew natural resources. Any project seeking to reinvest a projects’ profits, or that assists in the states export capabilities may be further encouraged through the offering of additional benefits.

If you are interested in learning more about investment opportunities in Sudan or would like assistance in pursuing an opportunity, please contact your relationship manager or email Najla Obeid at nfh@adglegal.com

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