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2 Apr 2020


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

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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.