In response to the global outbreak of Covid-19, authorities in the UAE are taking action to protect citizens, residents, and visitors’ safety and well-being.
To fully implement actions taken by the authorities, persons must practice responsibilities that are not always well defined. Consequently, in the world of work, employers need to fulfill several duties and obligations (A), so as employees (B), to mitigate as much as possible the impact of the virus on the labor market.
The duties and obligations of the Employers:
1. Health and safety obligations:
Employers have a general obligation to ensure a safe workplace for their employees and take precautionary measures to ensure that they are protected.
In light of the Covid-19, taking safety measures should be the primary goal of all employers. Therefore, they should consider implicating every solution that may help them achieve this goal. This is why requiring employees to take business trips to high-risk countries doesn’t align with this obligation. As a result, they have to adjourn such risky flights.
Employers should be aware that demanding and expecting things to work perfectly in such times is impossible and that taking measures to ensure employees’ safety should overcome any business consideration.
2. Provide new measures:
Since the world is experiencing extraordinary events, it is only fair to consider applying new work measures to cope with the whole situation. Employers should consider flexible work arrangements with their employees whenever the work permits it and implement all additional measures to conduct work most efficiently.
3. Stay up-to-date with the latest measures:
The situation is changing quickly. For instance, UAE banned its residents from entering and leaving the country for two weeks as of March 19, this resulted in having dozens of UAE residents stranded overseas.
The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued guidelines for residents and visa holders stuck outside the country: “Those who are currently outside the UAE for business considerations have to contact their employers here as well as Emirati diplomatic missions in their host countries for all necessary support to facilitate their return back to the UAE.”
Besides, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has introduced a new service on its website: “Tawajudi for residents.” The new service is intended for residents with valid residencies and who are outside the country. This service aims to facilitate their safe return to UAE in emergencies.
On April 2, the Emirates Airlines CEO announced that a limited number of flights is set to resume as soon.
As aforementioned, things are changing quickly. Flights are being suspended and resumed unpredictably. Employers should always be updated with the most recent measures in events like these, especially when their employees have business trip obligations. Therefore, they should take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees.
The duties and obligations of the Employees:
This obligation is required from both employers and employees. At first, employers should check their employment contracts and internal policies to see whether there is a contractual right or obligation implemented in these circumstances.
But since the laws and guidelines that cover situations like these are not numerous, referring to open discussions, good communication, and balancing rights should be the aim of both parties.
Leaves, for instance, many scenarios and speculations revolve around them. The truth is each condition has its scenario, so practically, there isn’t just one correct answer, but to each event, an adequate solution.
Seeking negotiation with employers will help to clarify such events and will ease the flow of things.
Just like employers should come up with suitable and flexible workspace, employees should be open to new workspace ideas such as work from home. Besides, employees cannot refuse to come to work, especially if there have been no cases in their specific workplace. Such a refusal would likely constitute an unauthorized absence.
Employees should be flexible and open to any solution that doesn’t threaten their health and helps them achieve their work.
3. Report important information:
Following employees’ obligation to ensure a safe workspace, employees have to inform employers of any information that helps them provide such an environment. Employees should notify their employers if they were in contact with a person infected with the virus or recently visited a risky country or any similar event.
In conclusion, employers and employees should take all adequate measures to fulfill their obligations and conduct their work in a possible safe way.