Legal View

Can my boss put me on unpaid leave indefinitely amid Covid-19?

Ashish Mehta
Filed on October 21, 2020 | Last updated on October 21, 2020 at 07.56 am
unpaid leavem, job, leave, job cut, salalry cut

(Photo: Alamy)

Know your rights in the UAE.

Question: I have been put on unpaid leave since May 2020 and my employer wants to extend it until the end of December. He also mentioned the leave might be extended even further until the end of quarter 1, 2021. Can employers put their employees on unpaid leave indefinitely? Also, my boss has not renewed my health cover even though I am still employed by the company.


Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed in a mainland company based in Dubai. Therefore, the provisions of a ministerial resolution 'concerning the employment stability in establishments of the private sector during the application of precautionary measures to control novel coronavirus outbreak' (Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020); and the provisions of Dubai Law No. 11 of 2013 concerning health insurance in Dubai (Dubai Health Insurance Law) are applicable.

An employer may call upon its employees to avail of unpaid leave during the applicability period of Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020. Your employer may ask you to avail of unpaid leave. He/she may have to agree with you to extend your unpaid leave with valid reasons related to the pandemic.

Further, your employer is obligated to provide you with health insurance facilities. This is in accordance with Article 10 of the Dubai Health Insurance Law, which states:

"The employer shall be obliged to do the following:

1. Cover the employees thereof by health insurance in accordance with the health insurance policy applicable thereby, providing to comply with the provisions of this Law and the resolutions issued pursuant thereto.

2. Bear the costs for such health insurance coverage rather than making the beneficiaries bear such costs.

3. Verify that the health insurance of the employees thereof is valid for the length of their work period at the employer.

4. Bear the health services and medical intervention costs in emergencies for any of the employees thereof, if any of them has no health insurance in accordance with the provisions of this law.

5. Give the employees thereof the health insurance card.

6. Provide the health insurance policy upon the residence issuance or renewal of the employees thereof.

7. Any other obligations specified by the Authority pursuant to the resolutions issued thereby in such concern."

Therefore, based on the aforementioned provision of law, your employer should provide you with health insurance during the period of your employment. Article 23 of the Dubai Health Insurance Law states that if an employer fails to provide health insurance, the authority concerned or the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) may impose penalties ranging from Dh500 to Dh150,000. If the employer violates this law repeatedly, penalties may go up to Dh500,000.

If you feel that your employer intends to extend your unpaid leave without valid reasons and if your employer does not provide you with health insurance facilities, you may approach the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and DHA to file a complaint against your employer.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

ERROR: Macro /ads/dfp-ad-article-new is missing!
MORE FROM Khaleej Times
CurrentRequestUnmodified: /apps/pbcs.dll/article?avis=KT&date=20200831&category=ARTICLE&lopenr=200839965&Ref=AR&profile=1097 macro_action: article, macro_profile: , macro_adspot:
KT App Download
khaleejtimes app

All new KT app
is available
for download:

khaleejtimes - android khaleejtimes - ios khaleejtimes - HUAWEI AppGallery