Legal Blog

  • Mehvish
  • 29-03-2020
  • 0

20 Legal Issues Concerning CORONAVIRUS in the UAE

#STAY HOME STAY SAFE

'The UAE government has called upon the public to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to get essential supplies, such as food and medicine, or perform essential jobs’

The world is facing unprecedented times and many of us are still uncertain as to what this means for us. Jobs and livelihoods are at stake, as well as immigration statuses, financial obligations, rent payments and so forth.  With a global pandemic, we felt it was essential to clarify the legal position around COVID- 19.

If you have any other questions you need advice on, go to www.zedteqlegal.com and click on ‘I Need Free Legal Advice’.

1. Can my employer dismiss me from my employment if I get COVID-19?

A serious concern for many is whether or not their employer is legal entitled to terminate their employment contract should they contract the virus, fall ill and are unable to work.

The simple answer is No. They are unequivocally not allowed to dismiss any employee who falls ill from contracting COVID-19. Employees were safe guarded under UAE laws with regards to sickness, even prior to the laws around coronavirus this year. Should any employer dismiss an employee without following the relevant articles, then they are obligated to compensate that employee properly and the employee should make a written complaint to the Ministry of Labour.

2. I have Coronavirus and have used my 90-day sickness. I still cannot return to work, what are my rights?

In these circumstances, your employer is entitled to terminate your contract, however, you will legally be entitled to ‘end-of-service gratuity’ in accordance with the Labour Laws of the country. Prior to this, you will need to notify your employer as soon as possible about the fact that you have contracted Coronavirus as per Article 82 of the UAE Labour Law. The law states you must do this within two days of knowing you are unwell. If you have been tested for the virus, you will be in possession of a report anyway and you must e-mail that to your employer immediately. If you suspect you have the virus then your employer may ask you to undergo a test in order to be sure.

It is important to note that you are only entitled to 90 days sick leave if you have completed your probation period and three months of continuous employment after your probation has ended (As per Article 83). If you have not, you are not entitled to 90 days of sick leave- so please check your contract for the details if you are unsure.

If you are entitled, the salary is calculated as follows:

Full pay for the first 15 days

Half pay for the next 30 days

No pay for the remaining 45 days

3. I have contracted Coronavirus and am too ill to work- can I resign?

If you feel you are simply too ill to return to work in the long run, then there are laws that allow you to terminate your employment legally so that there are no penalties or restrictions placed on you.

Article 86 states, “An employee can resign from work because of illness and before the expiry of the first 45 days of sick leave, if the physician from the respective health facility or the physician appointed by the employer consents to the cause of resignation. In such a case, the employer must pay to the resigned employee the wage that is due to him with regard to the remainder of the first 45 days.”

This means that you can provide your resignation letter to your employer before the first 45 days of your sick leave finishes, but you must have written consent from your Doctor that you are in fact too ill to return to work. Your employer will then be entitled to pay you your salary for the remainder of those 45 days of sick leave that you are taking.

4. Can we be arrested for breaking quarantine when the country is in lockdown?

Yes! These laws are in place for a reason and this pandemic is very serious, do not take the government advice on this lightly, just to break the law to meet up with friends. If one of them has the virus and they don’t know it at the time, you could end up seriously ill. You could also potentially pass it on to other people you meet over the next few days as well. Remember, there are people who have severe under lying health conditions who are classed as high risk, and by exposing them to the virus they could potentially lose their life, so think ten times before you need to leave your home and only if it is urgent and in line with the governments advice. Currently movement is restricted between 8:00pm and 6:00am.

Article No. 14 of 2014 of the Federal Law with regards to the control of communicable diseases. The law requires for relevant authorities, under the authority of the ministry, that they ‘must implement strategies and plans to reduce the rates of infection and deaths caused by communicable diseases, through the early detection and control of infected cases and sources of contagion’. Advising people to stay at home is part of this plan and therefore you must follow these laws properly.  Anyone violating these laws can be imprisoned or fined up to DH 50,000.00.

5. Can I fly home so I can self-isolate with my family?

It is not currently possible to travel in or out of the country as all flights have been ceased as of 25th March 2020. In any event, it is not advisable to mix with people and social distancing must be practised in order to prevent the further spread of the virus. Please think carefully if you need to leave your home and follow the government guidelines on when it is acceptable to leave your home. If someone you meet has the virus and they don’t know it at the time, you could end up seriously ill. You could also potentially pass it on to other people you meet over the next few days as well.

Some outbound flights will commence from 6th April 2020- but these are very limited. There has been an announcement by the Government that people are allowed to return home to their native countries, so check you are allowed to and any restrictions surrounding this.

6. I am a labourer but my Visa is going to expire soon, I am worried I will have a labour ban imposed on me.

Do not worry- all labourers, drivers and domestic workers whose residency visa and labour permits expire during this period will have their visas automatically renewed without even having to undertake or pass a medical test. You will be able to pay your fee online.

7. What is the status of Visas?

It is well known now that the UAE suspended the entry of all valid visa holders, who are currently out of the country for a renewable period of two weeks effective from 19th March 2020.

The Federal Authority for Citizenship and Identity has temporarily suspended the issuance of all visas on arrival from 1 am on 19th March 2020. 

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation have also announced the temporary ban on citizens travelling abroad, starting from 18th March 2020 until further notice.

8. I am on holiday in Dubai- can I renew my visa?

Yes, you can renew your tourist visa through any travel agency. It is especially important that you do this as all aviation has been ceased from 25th March 2020 and you cannot travel home in any event. Do not allow your visa to expire with the hope you will deal with it at the airport, you must do this now whilst your tourist visa is still valid otherwise you could be fined. The fine is AED 200 (Approx $55) for the first day, AED 100 (Approx $27) for every other day you stay without a valid visa. This also includes a one-off processing fee of AED 100.

9. What happens if I stay in the UAE and decide not to renew my visa?

This is not advisable at all. The government have allowed provisions during the pandemic and therefore you must take heed of them. If you stay in the UAE without changing the status of your visa you will be subjected to fines. The fine is AED 200 (Approx $55) for the first day, AED 100 (Approx $27) for every other day you stay without a valid visa. This also includes a one-off processing fee of AED 100.

10. Can I renew my residency permit whilst in quarantine and if I am working from home?

Yes, you can. You need to contact the relevant agency to do this for you. If you have a new sponsor or employer during this time, this can also be done without any fine on you. If you have cancelled your visa as your employment has terminated and you were going home before the Coronavirus pandemic begun, then you are allowed to change the status of your visa by applying for a visit visa/tourist visa through any agency.

11.    I have a residency visa but I am currently overseas and cannot return back to the UAE within the 180 days period required for me to return- what can I do about my residency visa?

Unfortunately, if you are out of the country and you will exceed the 180 days grace period, your visa will be cancelled. However, keep checking for updates with the relevant authority as things are changing rapidly.

We advise you to go on to https://www.mofaic.gov.ae/en/services/twajudi-resident and register here. Inform the government that you are out of the Country.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has established a 24-hour helpline to help those with a valid residence permits abroad, 0097124965228 / 0097192083344.

12. If I have recently returned from abroad or met with friends can I go out?

The government advices self-isolating for 14 days in these circumstances. Failure to do so will result in imprisonment, a fine or both.

13. Can I still go grocery shopping?

Yes, grocery shops and pharmacies are still open, however you must practise safe distancing, wash your hands thoroughly on your return, and although not legally required, a mask would be beneficial for you and those around you. If you have under lying health conditions or respiratory issues then you must wear a mask in public, failure to do so will result in a fine of AED 1000 ($270).

14. I can’t afford to pay my rent during the pandemic- what can I do?

Many landlords are offering assistance with paying the rent, whether it is an extended lease or rent- free period. If you haven’t heard from your landlord already, speak to them and try and work something out. Please rest assure, that under new government initiatives, landlords in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are prohibited from evicting their tenants during the Coronavirus pandemic. Things are constantly changing so keep an eye out for updates.

15. I am very worried about the affect Coronavirus pandemic will have on my business.

We understand this is a very difficult time for all business, however rest assured the government is doing all the can to assist businesses in various way. Some Companies and Landlords are offering rent free periods or extended payment periods, so that you can continue your business after the lockdown is finished. This way you can commence your business the same way you left it. There are various financial provisions being announced on a regular basis, so it is pertinent to keep an eye out for any changes that may affect you.

The overall impression given by Federal Supreme Council and Government is one of compassion and kindness, with the message of empathy during this humanitarian crisis.

16. I have a Free Zone Company and will struggle to pay my rent and other bills- what can I do?

Dubai Free Zone has announced some wonderful initiatives to really help those people who have set up Companies within this institution. These have been announced under the leadership of His Honourable, Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.

The measures announced are as follows:

  • Postponement of rent payments for up to 6 months.
  • Facilitating financial payments through easy instalments on a monthly basis.
  • Refunding various insurance and guarantees claims.
  • The cancellation of number of penalties for companies and individuals.
  • Allowing intra-corporate transfer of labour between companies and sectors operating in the free zones through permanent or temporary contracts without penalties during 2020.

17. How many people are allowed in a Taxi during Coronavirus pandemic?

The RTA has announced on 25th March that no more than two passengers are allowed to sit in a taxi, as a preventive measure in response to the pandemic. The third person must be the driver. Failure to comply will result in a AED 1,000.00 (approx. $270) fine.

18. I was driving at night and was flashed by a police camera- I don’t know why though?

Residents are not allowed to leave their homes between 8:00pm and 6:00 am unless they have registered on https://movepermit.gov.ae/ and obtained a special permit. The police cameras are to catch any resident who is violating the current protocol, therefore if your vehicle has been flashed it is probably as you were unauthorised to be on the road and will now be fined AED 3,000.00  (approx $815). Do not leave your home unless it is for the essentials during the day, groceries or to buy medicine.

19. Can I go out at during the day or during the night?

It has been advised by the government to stay home, unless absolutely essential, for example, if you need to go to work or buy groceries or medicine- if you don’t need to do any of these follow the advice to STAY HOME. If you break this advice and are seen outside for any non-essential trips, you will be fined AED 2,000.00 ( approx. $545 )- if you are a repeat offender then the following times your fine will be doubled.

With regards to travelling at night, there are currently restrictions on travelling between 8:00pm and 6:00am due to the outstanding sterilisation process that is being undertaken across the country. If you urgently require to leave the house, you must register for a permit on https://movepermit.gov.ae/ If you are seen out at this time without a permit you will be fined AED 3,000 ( approx. $815) and then this will be doubled on any subsequent occasions you leave the house without a permit.

20. Can I still invite people over into my home? We wont be out in the public this way.

No this is absolutely prohibited! If you invite people in to your home you are not practising social distancing and are putting yourself and your guests in great danger. If you are seen having friends over or a party, then you will be fined AED 10,000.00 ( Approx $2,720)  and all your guests will also be fined AED 5,000.00 ( approx. $1360)


PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT UAE LAWS ARE CHANGING REGULALRY WITH REGARDS TO COVID-19. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU FOLLOW THE MOST RECENT POSTS WHICH HAVE UPDATED LAWS TO ENSURE YOU ARE READING THE CORRECT AND MOST RECENT INFORMATION.


Mehvish

CEO/ CO-FOUNDER

ZedteQ Legal