UAE: NGO calls out "discriminatory" roll back of protections on migrant worker contracts during Covid-19 outbreak

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, the UAE labour ministry made the decision?in March?to allow companies to "restructure the contractual relationship" with their employers, including cutting salaries and putting workers on paid leave.?

While they do state they should be taken only with the agreement of the workers?and applied gradually,?the?reality is that?coupled with the UAE's pre-existing unequal employer-employee relationship these steps?will disadvantage workers further.

Further, the measures only apply to non-citizens, prompting NGO Migrant Rights to label them "a discrimination that renders migrant workers... as completely dispensable".

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Article
2 April 2020

UAE’s resolution to stabilise private sector employment gives businesses a free hand on contract change

Author: Migrant-Rights

The UAE... passed Ministerial Resolution No (279) earlier this week, addressing concerns of employment and job security in the private sector. According to the resolution, companies affected by COVID-19 could ‘reorganize the work structure’ through the following steps:

  1. Implementing the telecommuting system.?
  2. Granting paid leave.?
  3. Granting leave without pay.?
  4. Reducing wages temporarily during the period referred to.?
  5. Reducing wages permanently.

These measures apply only to ‘non-citizen’ employees – a discrimination that renders migrant workers (of all income brackets) as completely dispensable...

While the resolution states that these procedures should be undertaken ‘in agreement’ with the non-citizen employee, individual employees have little or no agency under the Kafala system. The assumption that the employee has the power to negotiate terms is moot. Because of this skewed power relationship, these measures may well result in a unilateral change in contractual obligation.

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Article
30 March 2020

Coronavirus: UAE Ministry regulates employer-employee relations in private sector

Author: Samir Salama, Gulf News

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has allowed private sector businesses affected by the COVID-19 measures to restructure?the contractual relationship with employees. These contractaul changes are to be made?in mutual agreement?through gradual procedures...

businesses affected by precautionary measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus and seeking to reshuffle their business structure shall gradually adopt the following actions, in agreement with their employees:

  • Implementing a remote work system
  • Granting employees paid leave
  • Granting employees unpaid leave
  • Temporarily reducing salaries during the aforementioned period
  • Permanently reducing?salaries

Meanwhile, these businesses will remain obliged to provide these employees with accommodation and other dues, except for salary, as long as they are in the country or until they are hired by?other businesses.

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