Coronavirus in UAE: Lost your job? Employer must provide accommodation
Companies that are forced to lay off staff should register their details in the virtual labour market system.
Private companies in the UAE are obliged to provide accommodation or housing allowance to workers who are laid off due to the economic challenges posed by Covid-19 until they leave or find another job. Employers are also required to clear all their dues, lawyers have told Khaleej Times.
This is according to decree No 279 of 2020 recently issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on regulating private sector jobs and salaries.
Emirati lawyer Abdul Moneim Bin Suwaidan of Bin Suwaidan Firm for Advocates and Legal Counsels urged the employers to respect the basic rights of workers, especially during this situation.
"In case of general disputes between the employer and the employee, the accommodation is a basic right of the employee and the latter is usually seen as the weak party. The employer is obliged by the law to keep the employee benefiting from the accommodation until the latter returns to his country or gets another job. The employee can't just be kicked out of the accommodation overnight.
"Even if the worker is a manager or is in an executive position and stays in an apartment or a villa, he should stay there until the case is solved."
How to file complaints
The proper way for the worker is to file a complaint with the MoHRE, which then tries to settle the dispute amicably after summoning the employer or the company's PRO. "Things can then be sorted out with the employee and the case is closed. Otherwise, the case is referred to court. The worker can't go to courts without first resorting to the ministry," said bin Suwaidan.
Lawyer Hani Hammouda of Kefah Al Zaabi Firm for Advocacy and Legal Consultancy said: "Decree 279 is a binding resolution. If the company has been providing accommodation or housing allowance for the employee, that should remain as an entitlement to the worker even after he is laid off. Only the basic salary stops as per the recent decree."
Hammouda stressed that the employee's right to gratuity shall remain intact. "The worker should get all his entitlements up to the date of issuance of decree 279. The employment contract is a consensual mutual agreement. It can't be amended unless with the consent of both parties. The amended version shall be presented to the ministry."
The employer is also obliged to bear the expenses (travel tickets for the worker and his family and luggage shipment) of the worker's return to the place from where he had brought him/her at the end of the labour contract as they agreed on.
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