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Monday, March 30, 2020

"MoHRE" launches the national program to support the stability of the labor market in the private sector

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation launched a "national program to support the stability of the labor market in the private sector" to ensure the continuity of performance of business in the private sector in light of a series of preventive measures and precautionary measures taken at the state level for the federal and local government work system to confront the "novel coronavirus" and contain its spread.

The program prepared by the Ministry in coordination with the National Emergency Crisis Management Authority (NCEMA) includes a package of measures to support employers and workers in the private sector, nationals and residents, in an integrated manner with the economic support packages provided by the state, in a bid to reduce the impact and repercussions of precautionary measures, aiming to contain the spread of coronavirus, on the national economy.

The program also includes a set of precautionary measures to protect workers in the private sector from infection with the coronavirus in a manner that ensures the continued performance of business in the private sector.

Support Stability of Nationals

MoHRE announced the start of preparing support packages aimed at enhancing job security and supporting the stability of nationals working in various economic sectors, especially those most affected by economic repercussions and challenges imposed by the precautionary measures of the coronavirus.

The Ministry noted the formation of a special committee to look into the complaints of nationals working in the private sector and follow their conditions in coordination and cooperation with the relevant federal and local government authorities in a manner that embodies the principle of complementarity of roles and partnership between the various authorities in the Emiratisation file in implementation of the directives of the wise leadership which is constantly following this important national file.

Lifting Restrictions

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced the lifting of all restrictions applied to all establishments registered with the Ministry, enabling them to get new internal work permits and renew work permits for registered workers on the targeted facilities within the framework of support packages provided to employers within the "National Program for Labor Market Stabilization in the private sector”

The support packages also include allowing companies to return the bank guarantee immediately upon renewing the work permit and insurance for the worker with an exemption from the waiting period associated with the wage protection system as well as getting new work permits despite expired previous work permits that need to be settled by paying their due fines.

The support packages also include allowing the enterprises to renew work permits without requiring them to renew the expired permits for over 6 months, as well as allowing them to issue new internal work permits on professions of the third skill level without applying the "scientific certificate" requirement.

The support packages offered to workers include the lifting of all restrictions that caused the refusal of granting them new work permits, except for two cases where it is proven that the worker violated canceling the work contract and in case of recording a complaint of leaving work against the worker.

The Ministry called on workers who meet the conditions for getting a "transfer work permit" to register in the "virtual labor market" on the website and to search for job opportunities available in the market.

Most affected Establishments.

MoHRE announced the availability of several options to help private sector companies affected by precautionary measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, as part of the National Program for Labor Market Stabilization in the private sector.

MoHRE called on the establishments to take advantage of the internal permit services to meet their job needs at present through "a transfer permit, a temporary work permit, and a work permit for some time".

It also urged that establishments with a surplus in the numbers of non-national workers who those authorized to work with it to register their data in the virtual labor market system on the website to support the needs of the labor market considering the suspension of recruitment from outside the country according to the need of the establishments. (While adhering to providing all contractual obligations until transferring the worker to another employer. "

The Ministry clarified that it is possible to amend work contracts temporarily during the period of applying precautionary measures by mutual consent between the two parties and in a manner that takes into account the current circumstances.

MoHRE stressed the possibility of granting the worker leave without pay during the precautionary period, upon agreement between the employer and the worker.

Precautionary Measures

Within the framework of the precautionary measures of the "national program to support the stability of the labor market in the private sector" to protect workers in the private sector and those dealing with its facilities, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) has reduced 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 in the number of employees who are physically required at service delivery centers by only 30%, and to apply preventive health measures – including social distancing, as well as frequent sterilization of all facilities regularly.

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

The Ministry stressed the need to adhere to 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 the workforce twice daily: 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 Ministry requires private establishments to report any worker with coronavirus symptoms or any suspected cases while following relevant authorities’ instructions concerning those who deliver goods and services to customers.

The Ministry obligated private sector establishments to report cases of workers who show symptoms of the virus or suspected of being infected with it, as well as to adhere to the application of health conditions and controls issued by the competent authorities regarding those who deliver goods and services to customers.

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 lowers, provided that takes place in coordination with the human resources departments in their facilities to approve their work remotely.

The Ministry urged all private sector establishments to use smart and electronic applications if they carry out their activities by working remotely while providing electronic channels for support and help.

It also called on private sector establishments that provide support to government agencies to coordinate with those agencies 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.

A guide to working remotely

According to a guide issued by the Ministry on regulations of remote work in private establishments, employer obligations include the 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 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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