News & Insights


COVID-19: UAE Employment law changes

April 14, 2020 / Author: Irfan Ali Thanvi


This article aims to analyse the laws issued by the UAE authorities with regards to the labour law amendments, following the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. The government tried to address the consequences of the imposed lockdown on employment in the UAE while protecting health and safety and environment at the workplace.

The most relevant laws issued, as of today, are the following:

  1. Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020
  2. Ministerial Resolution No. (281) of 2020

Ministerial Resolution No. (279) of 2020 

This Ministerial resolution ratifies Federal Law No. (1) of 1972 and the Federal Law No. (8) of 1980. The five distinct points evolving through the clauses of this resolution are as follows:

1. Implementing the telecommuting system.

2. Granting the employee a paid leave. 

3. Granting the employee to leave without pay.

4. Reducing the employee’s wages temporarily during the emergency period. 

5. Reducing the employee’s wages permanently.

It is indeed a matter of high relevance for both employers and their employees, as the resolution sets up the legal bindings upon both parties of the employment contract. Article 2 of the resolution further defines how “leave” can be accumulated during this time. One must not forget that the UAE has a diverse scenario for both paid and unpaid leaves. The Hajj leave for Muslim employees is paid and is considered separate from holidays. The requirement of employees to obtain a period of paid leave is a well-established law, as employers have always been able to unanimously ascribe an employee’s holiday period stipulated through Article 76 of the UAE Labour Law. Subsequently, the consent of an employee needs to be acquired by the employer prior to execution in this regard. For the first time, the concept of a “Virtual Labour Market” gets legal credence in the UAE. It should be emphasised that any alteration will only occur on wages in the issue. At the same time, according to article 3 of the resolution, this may certainly affect the employer-employee relationship. However, the resolution indeed allows safe distancing, work from home notices which enables a conducive quarantine during the pandemic crisis. Article no .4 describes motives for stranded employees through empowering their employers, the ones intending to pursue employment in the UAE and hence the portal of the MOHRE enacts as an Online Portal for millions of people across the globe to explore the options of their fields (

Furthermore, Article 5 explains the exact terms and conditions for a temporary reduction of the wages for employees. Alongside procedures, the article also enacts that the consent should always be secured from the employee, prior to the initiation of this process. Article 6 explains the application of the “Employment Contract data modification” to be endorsed by the MOHRE, Ministry of Labour and the contractual parties. Article 7 further links non-citizen residents of the UAE, to apply for jobs online, through registration on this e-portal. As a force majeure, Article 8 explains clearly that these measures should only be placed during the crisis and the facilities are for non-citizens only; hence the rules do not apply on regulations related to the employment of UAE Locals.


Ministerial Resolution No. (281) of 2020

On the 3rd of April 2020, the MOHRE released further clarification Ministerial Resolution No. (281) of 2020 on the regulation of remote work in the private sector, which allows only 30 % of each company’s workers and customers onsite. The exemption is for the following sectors:

1. Financial sector establishments, including banks, exchange centres and money transfer outlets;

1. Companies in the food industry, including those that manufacture and distribute food;

2. Establishments in the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants and catering companies;

3. Companies and factories that produce sterilization and cleaning materials and medical equipment, as well as those that offer cleaning services;

4. Healthcare facilities, including hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical factories, clinics and other medical services;

6. Infrastructure sector companies, including those that are involved in road and bridge works, water services, sanitation resources, electricity and communication networks, building and construction sites, contracting and construction firms, engineering consultants, catering companies, energy companies (oil companies, oil refineries, power plants, gas stations, fuel sales and distribution).

Hitherto, such requirements are barred from application to merchandisers operational in the sectors of Real Estate, Construction, infrastructure projects, catering, telecommunications, utilities, healthcare, academia, financing, food processing and distribution, recreation, health supplies production or maintenance companies.

The conductivity of the aforementioned clauses applies to all employees, whose job description absolves them from corporeal presence in their offices. The categories defined as an exception to the rules are:

· pregnant women;

· elderly employees 55 or above;

· employees of determination;

· employees suffering from respiratory or chronic diseases;

· Mothers of children of age 15 or below.



The pandemic has wreaked havoc across, and the UAE is trying her level best to accommodate the respective needs of both employers and employees. Nonetheless, requirements of this age are far more diversified than any of the times which have surpassed us in the past. 

The need for restricting people from social interactions is binding upon all of us. The Employment status of the UAE employees will surely be affected, but it’s wise to remain in touch with the employers, attorneys and the legal developments of the country’s Labour Laws. It is imperative to note that such measures are going through a critical analysis at the moment, but the good of these laws outweighs these critiques. 

Lately, a foreign daily commented in a peremptory, albeit, impertinent manner that such amendments of laws are not favouring the employees. On the contrary, these laws are providing a decisive shield to the employees, insuring them from forced terminations and any other form of discrimination through their employers. 

The methodology adopted executing these amendments is quite fascinating as well, as all procedures are performed online, and an e-record number is denoted to all transactions. Hence a proper portfolio is maintained to determine maximum legal coverage to both employers and employees. 

The COVID-19 series is a developing set of stories, so we do not partake in any liability incurred, due to either the non-implementation or wrong processing of these laws, on the part of either the employers or the employees.

This article, and any other BBA’s publication, is for general information only and in no case can be considered as legal advice on any specific situation, fact or dispute. This article may not be quoted or mentioned in any other document without BBA’s previous written consent. The mailing and receiving of this article are for informational purposes only and do not create an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. The content reflects the personal view of the authors and does not reflect necessarily those of BBA.