UAE: Some firms call employees to work despite floods, threaten salary cuts

Though some employers were considerate enough to allow employees to work from home, some have asked staff to report to work now


SM Ayaz Zakir


Waheed Abbas

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KT Photo: Shihab
KT Photo: Shihab

Published: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 5:28 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 Apr 2024, 4:12 PM

After heavy rains lashed the UAE this week, private companies across the country were urged to let employees work from home, taking into consideration their safety as roads got flooded and cars were submerged. Yet there were some companies that insisted on their employees reporting to work despite challenges in reaching the workplace.

In case of failure to report, employees have been threatened with salary cuts.

Some are now voicing concerns as they cannot even leave their houses due to water-logged streets and flooded neighbourhoods.

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One such resident was Arvind (name changed), who returned from a business trip and landed at Dubai airport Thursday evening, around 5 pm. After seven days of continuous work abroad, he was told to report to the office or he would be facing a pay cut.

“From the airport, I went to the office directly. Though the road was flooded, I had to manage anyhow,” said Arvind.

Arvind, who has been working in the travel and tourism sector for over seven years, said that he can easily manage his work from his residence. “I am into sales and most of the time I have to be outside the office. My work can be easily managed from home, but all the employees are being called to the office,” he added.

Some employees are also facing the dilemma of vehicles getting stuck in flooded parking lots, due to which they’re unable to go and work from the office.

“I live in Sharjah and roads are blocked due to floods. The cab was also not ready to take me to the office. I had to call a friend to pick me up and we had to navigate safer roads to my home. Finally, I reached home at 1am,” said Arvind.

“With no rest, I had to log into office at 9am on Friday,” he added.

Another resident, Syed, said he had to navigate water-logged roads since he was asked to come to work. “I could easily edit the videos at home without the need of going to the office and giving a perfect finished project,” said Syed.

Join office or face pay cut

A Romanian expat, who works in the hospitality sector, said employees have been warned that failure to comply with instructions from the company may result in salary deductions.

“We were called to work on Tuesday, April 16. Some had been to the office, while many opted to work from home. Our manager agreed to work from home on Tuesday and Wednesday. We were told to take off on Thursday as the roads were blocked,” said the Romanian expat.

“However, on Friday, we received a message in the morning that the employees who opted to work from home on Tuesday and Wednesday should either compensate by working extra days or balance them with their pending annual leaves," said the Romanian expat.

“We have also been told to work on Saturday, which is normally a weekend. It was the company’s decision and we are facing the brunt,” said the expat.

Recruitment experts advised firms to allow non-essential staff to work from home until the roads are clear.

Nicki Wilson, founder and managing director of HR and recruitment consultancy Genie, said it is true that some business owners have taken the stance to request their employees to come to work.

“It is a fine line at the moment between what is right and what is wrong to do. A lot of uncertainty out there… The most important thing as a business owner is to ensure the safety and happiness of their staff during this time. Some employees may have faced flooding in their homes or even financial loss from property damage. So, employers really need to be mindful of this,” she said.

Wilson added that employees working in salons, restaurants, delivery, logistics, retail and anything related to recovery have returned to their work.

“It’s difficult as some workers who are still needed to help businesses get back on their feet. If it is non-essential for staff to be in the office, then let them work from home until the roads are clear and communities are getting back to normal,” she said.


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