Covid UAE: Forced annual leaves out, planned holiday breaks in
UAE employers allow employees to plan annual leave this year.
Most employers in the UAE are allowing employees to plan their annual leave this year, after staff accumulated a huge number of leave days last year amidst Covid-19 travel restrictions, say senior officials of the human resources (HR) and recruitment industry.
Companies were struggling with their annual leave policies in 2020 due to various government-mandated lockdown measures following the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, employers forced staff last year to utilise their annual leave in whole or in part.
“Most employers ask employees to use their leave, including carry over of 5-10 days from last year, by April. We don’t see a trend of monetisation (of leaves), as the employee loses the unused leave if it is not taken in the given time period,” says Vijay Gandhi, regional director for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Korn Ferry, a global management consulting firm.
Gandhi said work-from-home and other policies have helped create balance in the new normal and holidays are important for work morale. They are also important to help distinguish between work and family life, especially at a time when many are working from home.
“In 2021, the trends related to annual leave policy has shifted, where people in UAE are not forced to take leaves. Most of the leaves are planned by the employees,” says Mohamed Bahaa, head of operations at Adecco Middle East, a recruitment and HR solutions firm, said
Two leave policies
In the current situation, considering the ongoing pandemic, there are two kinds of leave policies, Bahaa said.
“One where people have tested Covid-19 positive and are displaying symptoms. In such cases, the sick leave is provided by the employer in compliance with UAE law. In the second case, where people do not show any symptoms, the organisations implement complete quarantine and work from home policy,” he added.
Since a large part of the UAE’s population consists of expatriates, they prefer to spend their annual leave in their home countries.
“In situations where an employee has taken the vaccination and shows no symptoms of Covid-19 and also have no restrictions back in his/her home country, they are allowed to consume their annual leaves by their organisations," Bahaa said.
“In situations where there are restrictions from the home country or if the person is at high risk category, they are certainly not allowed to travel or consider taking annual travel leaves. In such cases, they have to strictly quarantine themselves or consider working from home,” he said.
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