Automatic Extensions Benefiting Foreign Nationals
The United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) Cabinet has approved certain new decisions in relation to the extension of several existing permits as the country steps up precautionary measures to contain the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new decisions are aimed to protect people’s health and safety and ensure business continuity at all sectors:
- Automatic extension of residence permits expiring on 01 March, 2020, for a renewable period of three (3) months, without any additional fees upon renewal.
- Automatic extension of Emirates IDs for a renewable period of three (3) months effective 01 April, 2020, without any additional fees upon renewal.
- Automatic extension of government services expiring on 01 March, 2020 onwards, for a renewable period of three months, starting 01 April, 2020. This generally applies to all federal government services, including with respect to deadlines for renewing permits, licenses and commercial registers.
Fines for UAE residence visa holders will be cancelled until the end of this year.
Extension of Travel Ban
After the initially imposed two-week entry ban on visa holders on 19 March, 2020, the UAE extended the ban on entry by valid visa holders who are currently overseas through 16 April, 2020 as part of the country’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Certain Protections for Employers and Employees
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (“MOHRE”) issued Ministerial Resolution No. 279 of 2020 (the “Resolution”). The Resolution aims to support employers in the private sector in the UAE by allowing them to adopt certain measures as the country addresses COVID-19, while at the same time protect employees in case of redundancies being made by employers.
- In case of redundancies, the Resolution requires employers to continue to provide employees made redundant with housing and all other entitlements (except for base salaries) until the earlier of (i) the employee exiting the UAE, or the employee obtaining the necessary authorization to work for another establishment, or (ii) the repeal of the Resolution (i.e., once the COVID-19 pandemic is contained).
- In case of redundancies, the Resolution does not remove the need for a redundancy payment (normally up to three months’ full salary). However, the recognition of the concept of redundancy within the Resolution may be an indication that the UAE Labour Courts may be more sympathetic to employers implementing redundancy dismissals (during the crisis) than would otherwise be the case.
- The Resolution gives employers the right to take the following measures (provided that measures 3, 4 and 5 are met with employee consent):
- Working from home;
- Leave with pay (essentially forced annual leave);
- Unpaid leave;
- Temporary salary reduction (using a MOHRE mandated form); and
- Permanent salary reduction (which requires employers to apply to the MOHRE for the MOHRE labour contract to be amended).
All government employees are required to work from home through at least 09 April, 2020. Private sector companies are also required to allow at least 80 percent of their employees to work from home. The authorities exempt companies in critical service sectors, such as security, health, food, logistics, delivery services, industrial and manufacturing, and banking. Any employee who works from the office (i.e. not remotely from home) and intends to stay at work after 8:00pm would then need to obtain a special permit from the Dubai Police, otherwise he/she will be subject to a fine.
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