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COVID-19: DIFC's New Directive Provides more Flexibility & Protection

28/4/2020

Employers can now impose reduced working hours, unpaid leave and put remote working conditions in place without the consent of their employees.

Employers can now impose reduced working hours, paid or unpaid leave, reduced pay, restrict workplace access and put in place remote working conditions without the consent of their employees for the duration of the Emergency Period. The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) revealed that Resolution No. (4) for the year 2020 for the center, which went into effect from 21 April 2020 until 31 July 2020 (the Emergency Period), the new Directive provides greater flexibility to DIFC-based employers and increased protection to employees.

Companies based in DIFC will have the ability to introduce several emergency employment-related measures during the COVID-19 (the Emergency Period) to expeditiously deal with the impact of the pandemic. Employers can now impose reduced working hours, paid or unpaid leave, reduced pay, restrict workplace access and put in place remote working conditions without the consent of their employees for the duration of the Emergency Period (i.e. 31 July 2020).  The primary motivation of the Directive is to make it easier for DIFC’s employers to impose temporary changes to their employees’ terms of employment, which in turn will reduce the likelihood of employers having to resort to terminate employment of their staff. This is beneficial to employees in the long run. It is important to note that these measures may only be imposed for the duration of the Emergency Period and any permanent changes will require employee consent.

The Directive ensures that any DIFC-based employee who contracts COVID-19 or has been quarantined by the local authorities to limit the spread of the virus, will retain full remuneration. This is in respect of their COVID-19 related sick leave pay and any such sick leave shall not be counted towards their annual sick leave entitlement. Additionally, the Directive also deals with important considerations of privacy and cyber security for employees working in remote working conditions.

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