Unpaid leave in UAE during coronavirus: All you need to know
An employer in the UAE should pay salary to its employees for the period the employee works for him.
Question: I am employed by a contracting company. My employer requires me to sign an amendment to my employment contract stating that I will be on unpaid leave for two weeks in a month for the next four months and my salary shall be deducted accordingly. My employer is asking me to work during the unpaid leave period. Am not I entitled to full salary if I do work for the employer the entire month?
Pursuant to your query, it is assumed that you are employed in a mainland company based in the UAE. It is further assumed that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, your employer considers to place you on unpaid leave for two weeks in a month for the next four months with reduced salary. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law') and the provisions of Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020 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') are applicable.
It should be noted that an employer in the UAE may call upon an employee to avail unpaid leave if the employer is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is in accordance with Article 2 of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020, which states: "Establishments affected by the precautionary measures referred to above, who wish to reorganise its employment relations, shall take the following measures gradually and in agreement with the non-national employee, as per the following:
1. Apply a remote working system.
2. Granting a paid leave.
3. Granting an unpaid leave.
4. Temporarily reduction of salary during the mentioned period.
5. Permanent reduction of salary"
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, the employer may ask you to sign the 'Temporary Additional Addendum'in the format prescribed by Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (the 'Mohre') which shall include your unpaid leave period and your reduced salary. This is in accordance with Article 5 of the Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020, which states: "Establishments that wish to temporarily reduce the salary of a non-national employee during the mentioned period shall take the following actions:
1. Conclude a 'Temporary Additional Addendum' to the employment contract between both parties, in accordance with the template attached to this resolution, provided that it shall expire at the end of its term or enforceability of this resolution, whichever comes first.
2. Renewing the Addendum referred to in Clause 1 of this Article shall be in agreement between both parties.
3. The Addendum referred to in Clause 1 of this Article shall be executed in two copies, each party holding a copy, and the employer shall commit to present it to the ministry whenever asked."
Further, it is at your discretion to sign the 'Temporary Additional Addendum' and the employer cannot force you to sign the same. It should be noted that forcing to the sign any document in the UAE is a criminal office in accordance with Article 397 of the Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 related to issuance of Penal Code of the UAE.
An employer in the UAE should pay salary to its employees for the period the employee works for him. This is in accordance with Article 60 of the Employment Law, which states: "Any amounts of money may not be deducted from the employee's remuneration to recover particular rights, except in the following cases:
a. Repayment of advances or amounts of money paid to the employee in excess of his entitlement, provided that deduction in this case may not exceed 10 per cent of the employee's periodic pay.
b. Installments which are payable by law by the employees from their remuneration, such as social security and insurance schemes.
c. Subscriptions of the employees in the saving fund or advances due for payment to the fund.
d. Installments in respect of any social scheme or other privileges or services provided by the employer and approved by the Mohre.
e. Fines imposed upon the employee due to offenses committed by him.
f. Any debts payable in execution of court judgment provided that not more than a quarter of the employee's pay shall be deducted. In the event of numerous debts or creditors, half of the remuneration at the most may be deducted and the sums of money attached shall be divided pro rata among beneficiaries after payment of any legal alimony amounting to one quarter of the remuneration."
Further, as an employee you are entitled for compensation if you are employed during unpaid leave period and if such days of employment are not compensated with leave. This is in accordance with Article 81 of the Employment Law, which states:
"If exigencies of work necessitate that the employee work on holidays or rest days against which he receives full or partial pay, he shall be compensated in lieu thereof with increase in pay by 50 per cent of his salary, but if he has not been compensated for the same with a leave, the employer shall pay him an increase to his basic salary equivalent to 150 per cent of the days of work."
Therefore, you may inform your employer that it is incorrect on its part to make you work during your unpaid leave period. You may further inform your employer that as you are being asked to work during the unpaid leave period, and so your employer should compensate you accordingly as per the aforementioned provision of law. If the actions of your employer are not in compliance with the aforesaid provisions of law, you may file a complaint with the Mohre against him.
Know your law
An employer in the UAE should pay salary to its employees for the period the employee works for him
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: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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