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UAE Covid: Can I be forced to work from home as I recover?

Ashish Mehta/Dubai
Filed on February 21, 2021
Illustrative image: Alamy.com/ae

Know your legal rights when it comes to taking sick leave for Covid-19.

Question: I am a teacher at a private school in Dubai. My family and I got infected with Covid-19 and we are under home quarantine. I have mild symptoms like fever, dry cough and body ache. Our school is offering distance education. I requested a few days off, but the school management is asking that I continue working from home. The school’s stand is that I am not hospitalised and my condition is not severe, so I can’t be given a sick leave. Is it legal to make people with Covid work during quarantine?

Answer: Pursuant to your query, we note that you are employed by a private school (the Employer) in Dubai and therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating Employment Relations in the UAE (the Employment Law) and the subsequent ministerial decrees shall be applicable.

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In response to your query, it may be noted that as an employee, you may avail your statutory right to sick leave not exceeding 90 days once you have completed your probation period and an additional 3 months’ of continuous service after. This is in accordance with Article 83 (2) of the Employment Law, which states:

“An employee who contracts illness after completing three months, following the probationary period, in the continuous service of an employer shall be entitled to a sick leave not exceeding 90 days, successive or otherwise, in respect of each year of service, to be calculated as follows.

- The first 15 days: with full pay.

- The next 30 days: with half pay.

- Any subsequent periods: without pay.”

In furtherance, it may be noted that provisions under the Employment Law pertaining to sick leave have not been amended by the Ministry of Human Resources Emiratisation (the MOHRE) in respect of Covid-19. They continue to be applicable. Therefore, a quarantine period in relation to Covid-19 may also be treated as a sick leave and may come under the purview of the aforementioned provision of law.

Having said that, it must be noted that as an employee, should you choose to avail sick leave, you are required to provide your Employer with a ‘Sick Leave Certificate’ which may be issued by a Dubai Health Authority (the DHA) licensed doctor.

In view of the foregoing, you may approach your Employer requesting that you be granted sick leave for a few days during your home quarantine. Along with your request, it may be prudent on your part to provide your Employer with your Covid-19 positive test result, a doctor’s letter, and a ‘Sick Leave Certificate’.

Upon your request, should your Employer refuse to grant you a sick leave, you may consider approaching the MOHRE 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: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.





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