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Friday, March 27, 2020

Regulating Remote Work System in private sector

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) has decided to reduce the attendance of workers in the private sector establishments in the UAE to the minimum necessary for the conduct of business, so that the percentage of workers whose work requires being in the workplace does not exceed 30% of the total number of employees in a single establishment in parallel with the application of the remote work system for workers whose job duties do not require presence in the workplace.

MoHRE stressed the need to facilitate a further reduction on the number of employees who are physically required at service delivery centers by no more than 30%, and to apply preventive health measures – including social distancing, as well as frequent sterilization of all facilities regularly.

This came in a resolution issued by H.E. Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, on regulating remote work at UAE-based private entities as part of the precautionary measures taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19, in coordination with the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA). The decision is effective as of Sunday 29 March for two weeks that are subject to review and assessment.

The decision to reduce workers to 30% exempts a number of activities, including infrastructure projects, catering, telecommunications, power, health, education, banking, food industry and hospitality, health supplies manufacturing and cleaning firms.

The resolution stipulates compliance with the precautionary and preventive measures by all workers whose jobs require physical presence at workplaces or labour accommodations. Under these measures, private entities must provide screening devices at their entrances to take temperature and check symptoms of the virus among workforce on a daily basis twice: before entry in the morning and upon return for evening shifts. Suspected cases should be prohibited from going to work or entering their accommodations before referring them to relevant health authorities.

The decision calls upon these entities to put in place a mechanism for transporting workers to and from their workplaces, ensuring that the number of transported workers should not exceed 25 percent of vehicle seating capacity 

Employers should also ban gatherings and convening of cultural, social and sporting activities at workers’ accommodation, while minimizing the number of workers at the accommodation’s canteens during mealtime and maintaining at least a two-metre space between every two workers.

The decision requires private establishments to report any worker with coronavirus symptoms or any suspected cases, while following relevant authorities’ instructions concerning those who perform delivery of goods and services to customers.

According to the decision, the Remote Work System should apply to all employees and workers whose jobs don’t entail their physical presence at workplaces, with priority to be given to pregnant women, employees aged 55 and above, people of determination, employees with respiratory and chronic diseases and mothers of children in G-9 and below subject to the approval of their HR Departments.

The decision also stressed that all private establishments should harness the power of technology, including smart digital platforms with online support capabilities. Private service suppliers to government entities should coordinate with service recipients to ensure business continuity.

On the other hand, MoHRE has determined the obligations of both parties to the remote work system from the employers and their employees, according to the application of the Law on Regulating Labor Relations and Related Legislations on those who work under this system.

According to a guide issued by the Ministry on regulations of remote work in private establishments, employer obligations include provision of necessary technical tools to perform work remotely by using smart platforms, defining the efficiency measurement mechanism with setting standards, mechanisms and timeframes for each activity that is delegated to the worker and determining the management method of working remotely in terms of working hours, whether they are specified at a specific time, or flexible during the day, week, or month.

The obligations also include ensuring a secure technological environment by observing the regulations related to maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of data and limiting the powers to enter the systems to complete the work from home and following up with the employees who work remotely in order to ensure their commitment to the working hours and completion of work outputs.

The obligations of the employee working from home include the approval of his employer to attend to the workplace whenever requested to do so, perform tasks according to the timeframes set for completion, be available to answer all business calls and emails, maintain the confidentiality of information and documents, and invest the work time remotely in completing tasks. He/she is also obligated to provide the supporting evidence required by the entity for his achievements and productivity and to maintain any remote work devices that were provided by the entity to him and return them whenever requested.

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