Salary cuts in UAE amid Covid: Can they be extended indefinitely?

Dubai - Know your legal rights regarding an additional work agreement you may have signed.

By Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 10 Jan 2021, 11:18 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Jan 2021, 11:40 AM

Question: If my company keeps extending the temporary pay cut, is there anything I can do legally? I have been on a pay cut since June 2020 and we are working from home. Can the employer force us to work from office without our full salaries?

Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed in a mainland company based in the UAE. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) had issued Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020 Concerning the Employment Stability in Establishment of the Private Sector During the Application of Precautionary Measures to Control Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020).

Therefore, the provisions of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 are applicable.

The employer in the UAE may apply the provisions of Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 if it is affected by the pandemic and may reduce the salary of its employees as agreed with the employee. This is in accordance with Article 2 (4) of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020.

Based on the aforementioned provision, you may have signed the ‘Temporary Additional Addendum’ agreeing on the reduction of your salary since June 2020. This is in accordance with Article 5 (1) of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020.

It should be further noted that an employer may also reduce the salary of its employee permanently upon agreeing with the employee and on approval by the MOHRE. This is in accordance with Article 6 of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020.

The aforementioned provision is still applicable as the MOHRE has not withdrawn it. Further, the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 is silent in respect of the place of work. Therefore, if your employer calls upon you to work from office, you may have to abide by it. However, your employer must take precautionary measures in office and safety of the employees is of utmost importance.

The employer must follow the guidelines issued by the local authorities in the UAE with regards to employees while they are working from office. These may include social distancing at place of work; regular sanitisation of the workstations; instructions to wash hands or clean hands with sanitizer to employees, customers and visitors; and to avoid physical contacts while greeting.

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.

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