Since COVID-19 precautionary measures were implemented, we have been flooded by employment inquiries from both employees and employers who have been affected.
We have always tried to balance our advice pragmatically and know that it is important to allow businesses to continue running and vital to ensure employees’ wellbeing and survival remains a top priority. Our advice varies based on the size of the employer, the current circumstances, and the tolerance level of both the business and its human capital.
On 26 March 2020, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization came up with the Ministerial Decision no. 279/2020 which addresses a number of these concerns. This decision included two main provisions:
A. Applicable measures employers may take in response to the precautionary measures
- The Ministry advised employers to apply the following measures on a step by step basis:
- Working from home methodology;
- Granting paid leave to employees;
- Granting unpaid leave to employees;
- A temporary decrease in salaries, with a requirement to enter into an addendum in the form provided by the Ministry which shall expire by the end of its period or by the end of the precautionary measures, and which should be in two copies: one to the employer and one to the employee, available for the Ministry to check whenever required;
- A permanent decrease in salaries, which should follow the normal procedures set out by the Ministry
While there is no guideline on the time period required to move from one step to another, we advise clients to apply the reasonability test. This means that less severe measures should be applied when there is an opportunity to do so. Further, as these measures decrease employees’ benefits, they should be taken only in response to actual losses incurred or expected to be incurred by the employer. A decrease in profit would not constitute a reason for decreasing the benefits.
B. Virtual Labour Market (VLM)
Separately, the Ministry advised employers with excess employees to register them on the VLM to show their availability to other potential employers. The current employer shall remain responsible for all allowances (except salaries) until the employee leaves the country or joins another employer.
For those employers who wish to recruit new employees using the current pool available on the VLM, they may apply for new permits, temporary permits, and part-time permits as applicable.
During this tough time, everyone must co-operate in the best interests of our society. A number of our clients have already started planning initiatives to employ idle talents during this period to fulfil the increased need for specific areas of work and to satisfy corporate social responsibility towards our communities.
If you like more information about this decision, the measures applicable, or assistance on how to plan your measures, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.