An employer is currently legally entitled to have their employees work from the office.
While a complete lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak is yet to be announced in the UAE, the government on Monday called upon the public to stay at home except in cases of necessity, including getting essential supplies, such as food and medicine, or performing jobs.
However, there remains confusion over why some employers continue to make employees go to their offices despite feasible “working from home” arrangements.
Examples include those working in PR and social media agencies, the sales departments of banks and other institutions, and schools and universities (which are closed, but some staff are still being made to report on campus nonetheless).
(To clarify the legal rights of employees at this time, Zawya spoke to Michael Kortbawi, Partner at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates, who acknowledged that it is a difficult situation for both employers and employees.)
“Dubai strives on connectivity, and in the absence of this crucial element, it will be difficult to sustain any business in the coming three month as the current workload diminishes and eventually disappears,” he said. “[But] we have noted that many companies have understood the severity of the crisis, and have implemented measures to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak [such as] encouraging and even rewarding employees who work from home.” At this time, however, it remains perfectly legal for employers to expect employees to work from their workplace. Below are your current rights as an employee in the UAE. These are subject to change as further updates come in from the government.
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