UAE launches ‘early leave’ for private sector expats to return home during Covid-19 crisis

All establishments are to comply with this directive and employers must book a round ticket for employees availing of this facility

Offices Send Their employees Home

The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has launched an ‘Early Leave’ initiative for all expat private sector employees which would allow them to temporarily return to their home country during the time that the Covid-19 precautionary measures are in effect in the UAE.

Employees will be asked to submit their annual leave dates or agree with their employers on unpaid leave, reported official news agency WAM on Sunday.

All establishments are to comply with this directive and employers must book a round ticket for employees availing of this facility.

The initiative by MOHRE was designed in collaboration with the UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the General Civil Aviation Authority, and the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority.

A statement by MOHRE read: “As per the decree No. 279 (2020), in regards to the private sector foreign workers during the implementation of precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus, the initiative is an extension of the humanitarian support programmes of the Government of the UAE and in response to a large number of requests received from some foreign workers who are still on duty but wish to return to their countries. All establishments shall comply with the following procedures in case a foreign worker requests for an Early Leave.”

The ministry went on to outline the method in which employees can request for the ‘Early Leave’ and the responsibilities of the employers once this request is raised:

1. Specify the leave duration by signing an additional temporary form for the job contract – available on MOHRE’s website and smart app – during the implementation of the precautionary measures to prevent the coronavirus spread.

2. Booking a round trip ticket for the employee.

3. The contractual relationship between the employee and employer must continue. The early leave is considered unpaid leave, provided that all workers’ entitlements are saved, as per labour laws.

4. The leave ends after the employee is back, and the precautionary period is over.

5. Work residencies for those who return to their countries will be renewed automatically if they expire even if the employees are not within the UAE.

The ministry also asked employees who wish to communicate with it regarding this directive to email them on [email protected] for further clarifications.

In related measures for private sector employees in the country, MOHRE issued a new decree on March 26 allowing private sector companies in the UAE to restructure their existing contracts with employees by granting employees both paid and unpaid leave, as well as temporarily or permanently reducing the employees’ salaries during the period in which its businesses are affected by the Covid-19 precautionary measures.

Read: UAE issues decree to regulate private sector job cuts, salary reductions during Covid-19

On April 1, MoHRE issued another set of directives for the private sector governing work-from-home policies and the conditions under which employees are allowed to operate out offices, if necessary.

Read: UAE issues new remote working directives for private sector within the country