Covid-19: Returning to work in the United Arab Emirates


Now that time has passed since the outbreak of Covid-19, things are gradually getting back to normal, or, to be more precise, the world started to get used to the “new normal”.

Since the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that lockdown was lifted, businesses are exploring how their employees will return to working from offices and what guidelines and steps to follow to prevent the spread of the virus as much as possible.

In this article, we are going to shed the light on (I) the general safety and ethics measures that workers in the UAE should adopt, and the (II) impact of the pandemic on employment agreements after returning to work.

  • General Safety and Ethics Measures to Adopt:


  • When getting back to office:

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office and a number of firms and offices implemented certain guidelines to follow when returning back to office after more than 10 weeks of work from home.

These guidelines include:

  • Limiting physical attendance to 30%.
  • Social distancing – employees should stay at least 2 meters apart.
  • Wearing face masks.
  • Employees that can work from their offices should be between the ages of 18 and 55 years old.
  • Pregnant women and employees that suffer from chronic diseases or live with people above 60 years old are not allowed to work in the office.
  • Videoconferencing should be used for meetings.
  • Glass barriers should be installed to separate employees.

Employees who can conduct their work remotely are encouraged to work from home. Moreover, parent employees can work from home as long as the schools are still closed.

  • When Working from Home (WFH):

While only 30% of employees can work from the office, the rest should be WFH.

At home too, every employee should have the morals and discipline to abide by certain rules, even if there is no one supervising them.

WFH employees should be always committed to getting their job done at the specified time. They should be reachable during working hours and take calls with their superiors and colleagues, as if they were in office.

WFH has also its benefits for employers who can actually identify the dedicated and disciplined employees capable of taking responsibility.

  • Impact of the pandemic on the employment agreement salary cuts

As a general and broad rule, whatever happens in accordance with the agreement that you signed is considered legal, and whatever contradicts it is illegal.

Since the pandemic is not something that be expected, all companies are experiencing hard times when it comes to work and they are not working properly, this leads directly to a reduction in its finances so employers seek plans to keep on the business running.

Temporary salary cuts can be a solution to enable the business to bear these stuff times and make it through. The employee should be cooperative and try to bear with the employer to the extent that it is reasonable. The employers cannot cut salaries for a permanent time since it is against the law.

As a conclusion

This pandemic has led to a wide change of habits in the workplace environment, employers have started to figure out new ways to cope with this change and to find a new way on how to move forward. As stated above companies are starting examining the position of each employee and whether his activities can be conducted remotely or not.

This presumption that work can only be achieved in the company’s location is more and more fading. This pandemic has proven that for a big number of companies and business activities, the job can be done from anywhere without it having to physically exist in the workplace.