Can my employer ask me to work remotely while on leave?

During the COVID-19 outbreak, companies had to change their work structure. Employers found it necessary to adjust schedules and start working remotely. Even now, home office has become a reliable alternative to conventional work. For this reason, you must know some key aspects that you can improve along with your employer if you work remotely. 

In this article, you will learn about the legal position of the United Arab Emirates regarding the ongoing pandemic. Also, learn the laws the employers must follow, the aspects and conditions of remote work, and how we can help you achieve your goals as a remote worker.

  1. What is remote working?
  2. The legal position of the UAE before the pandemic
  3. The legal position of the UAE following the COVID-19 outbreak
  4. Do UAE workers have the right to work remotely?
  5. What laws do employers need to follow?
  6. Can your employer ask you to work remotely while on leave?
  7. Can your employer monitor you when you are working from home?
  8. How to ask your manager if you can work from home permanently?
  9. How can The Talent Point help you with the process of working remotely?

1. What is remote working?

Remote working is one of the alternative work options that ensure the continuous performance of the activities and provision of services away from the office, either permanently or partially, or according to the nature of the workplace. The communication between the employee and their employer/company takes place electronically, through the use of electronic smart systems approved by the Federal Government. 

The employee and the employer shall abide by the rules issued by the authorized legal entity in this regard and in cases of emergency that require performing business from outside the workplace rather than attending fully or partially. However, working from home does not mean granting any type of authorized leave.

1.1 Types of remote working

This kind of work divides into the following types:

  • Remote working partially: In this modality, employees can ask their employers to divide work time between the original workplace and remote workplace in equal or different proportions per day/week/month.
  • Full-time remote working: These jobs can be performed completely from outside the official workplace.

2. The legal position of the UAE before the pandemic

Remote working in the UAE is a relatively new concept, as the standard position for employees is to work for a specific employer in a specific geographical location (i.e an entrepreneur’s business premises as set out in its commercial trade license).

Whilst this type of work has been actively encouraged by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) for onshore UAE national employees since 2017, there was no previous recognition for expatriate employees and the key employment legislative framework throughout the UAE does not provide the concept of remote working.

However, this changed drastically in 2020, when the UAE government introduced measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. As a result, employees from the public and private sectors were required to work remotely.

3. The legal position of the UAE following the COVID-19 outbreak

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the MoHRE released a temporary guide regulating remote work in private businesses, which gives an employer the authority to request that an employee works remotely.

While this resolution was introduced as a temporary alternative, it remains in force, and it is yet to be seen whether the MoHRE will extend the resolution and make permanent legislative changes. The application of this resolution varies within free zones, however, several free zones, like the Dubai Multi Commodity Centre (DMCC) introduced their own guidance.

For employees in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the authorities of the free zone introduced a range of emergency employment-related measures, one of which was to impose remote working conditions and requirements on employees. 

In the Emirate of Dubai, it has been allowed for companies (both within the free zones and onshore) to operate at 100% capacity. However, many private companies continue to work remotely entirely or alternatively. They also introduced atypical working arrangements and implemented or amended company policies reflecting these arrangements. For public employees, the government implemented several measures, including a “work from home” policy to support female employees with children undertaking distance learning and a flexible working system across all government departments. 

On the other side, in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, there remains a restriction on the number of employees on business premises, currently at 60% occupancy.

4. Do UAE workers have the right to work remotely?

From a legal perspective, companies in the UAE have the right to tell their staff to come back to their workplace. This is because, generally, all work contracts include a “place of work” clause, which states that the employee will be working from their employee’s premises. 

Following the government guidance regarding the spread of COVID-19 in 2020, establishments have steadily been allowed to increase the number of occupants. The UAE Labour Law states that an employee can only legally resist going back to the office if they have a valid medical reason that puts themselves and their co-workers at risk. They must be in a high-risk category, like being a cancer patient, for example, as it becomes a safety and health issue.

An employee has no legal ground to refuse to go back into the office only because they feel more comfortable or productive working remotely.

5. What laws do employers need to follow?

Before companies can welcome people back into their physical office space again, they must comply with several steps. Based on the Emirate they are in, companies must adhere to the capacity regulations which dictate what percentage of their workforce are legally allowed to have in their office.

As shown above, Dubai has been working at full capacity for both the private and public sectors. And Abu Dhabi recently doubled its workplace capacity for government employees from 30 to 60 percent. 

On the other hand, private companies in the capital can still have only 30% percent of their workforce back. And for most of the Northern Emirates, it is still between 30 and 60 percent. The employers must also make sure that there is a distance of at least two meters between all desks and workspaces. For many office towers, for example, that could mean bringing the staff in on alternate days or having a physical reconfiguration.

5.1 Know everything about remote or office jobs with The Talent Point

As shown above, the UAE laws about remote work can vary from one Emirate to another. On The Talent Point, you can find multiple job opportunities in the country of your choice. Additionally, we offer you a variety of tips to succeed professionally, for example, how to reject a job offer or how to answer interview questions, like “what makes you an ideal candidate?”.

We are the best platform where top talent can find their ideal job and recruiters can find their best candidate. Whether it is a remote work vacancy or working from an office, our agency will show you the best job opportunities that Middle Eastern companies have to offer.

6. Can your employer ask you to work remotely while on leave?

If you are employed by a private Mainland company, then the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the regulation of employment relations (the UAE Labour Law)  are applicable.

Note that an employer cannot call upon an employee to work during their annual leave even though the Employment Law is silent regarding the employee’s obligations during annual leave. 

On the other hand, it is common that the employee and the employer reach a mutual agreement on the terms and conditions of the worker during her or his annual leave. Based on the same, the manager may have to pay a salary and additionally fifty percent of the worker’s basic pay. This is following Article 28 of the Labour Law, which states the following:

“If the circumstances require that the worker must perform work-related tasks on holidays, the employee must be compensated with a substitute rest day for each day worked or be paid their wage for normal working days plus a supplement of at least fifty percent of their basic wage for that day.”

6.1 Other aspects of the law regarding this matter

Taking into account the aforementioned provision of law, you may work on your annual, maternity, or sick leave if you voluntarily reach an agreement with your employer. However, it is advisable that you claim the additional pay as mentioned in Article 28 of the Labour Law if you intend to work on your annual leave on the instructions of your employer. Further, if you reach an agreement, the manager may stipulate specific working hours for you to work on your annual leave. This is following Article 17 of the Labour Law, which states: “If the employee decides to work remotely, whether inside or outside the country and with the consent of the manager, the manager may stipulate specific working hours.”

If you want to know more about the matter, we recommend that you contact the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

7. Can your employer monitor you when you are working from home?

With hundreds of UAE citizens working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are increasingly turning to monitor software and other forms of surveillance to keep track of a worker’s productivity. 

7.1 What are your rights if you are working from home? 

As a general rule, if you are working with your employer’s equipment while on your employer’s network, your manager has the right to monitor everything you do, whether you are working in the workplace or remotely. Since the company is providing the communication technology, they have the right to keep tabs on your activities. This includes how you are using your computer (including the number of keystrokes and the actual words you type), your internet browsing, the content of your work email, and what you store on your computer.

For many employees, working from home is an opportunity to intermingle work and personal devices and networks. This can open the employee up to more management monitoring of nonwork activities. For example, if you open a personal email on your work computer, your manager can likely monitor your email.

Similarly, if you are using a personal device but are logged on to a work network, your manager can monitor your activity on that device. The same happens if you are conducting personal business on a company-provided cell phone. Your manager can track everything on the phone, including call logs, photos, and texts.

On the other hand, if you use your internet connection and your own device, it is less likely that your employer has the right (or the ability) to keep tabs on what you do. You can ensure the privacy and the security of your personal communications by keeping your networks and personal devices separate from your work devices and networks.

Regardless of whether you are working in a workplace or remotely, the law does not provide much privacy protection for employees. However, there are some limits on how far an employee can go.

8. How to ask your manager if you can work from home permanently?

Deciding to work remotely can bring several advantages to your work-life balance. But first, you must reach an agreement with your employer in order to start a successful partnership. 

Before learning how to reach a successful agreement, remember that on our platform, you can find the best job offers with face-to-face and remote modalities. In this way, you can choose the one that suits you best and work under your own conditions.

How and when you ask to work remotely can be the difference between reaching an agreement or not. If you want  to make this request a reality, follow these steps:

8.1 Put your proposal in writing and be willing to compromise

Make sure you put your request in a formal proposal format. This will make your employer take your proposal more seriously. It is also important to show yourself flexible and willing to compromise.

8.2 Time your request well

It is important to be transparent in every part of the proposal and be open to discussion. Give a proper amount of time to your management so they can think about the possibility of changing your work modality.

8.3 Know your negotiating power

Be confident, discussing this kind of matter should not be a problem. After all, employers and employees work together constantly to take care of the company’s best interest.

9. How can The Talent Point help you with the process of working remotely?

The Talent Point is the best job and recruitment portal you can find for your job search. We are in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and many other countries. Once you register, you will have the opportunity to find the ideal job for you.

By choosing us as your preferred employment seeking partner, you will benefit from several services in addition to our best packages, such as:

On the other hand, employers can also easily create an account and start recruiting the best talent in the region. We make this process easy and intuitive, so anyone can get started and post a new job anytime they need to hire new professionals.

If you are ready to start a new chapter in your life working in one of the best enterprises of the Middle East, do not hesitate to contact us. Call us at +971 43 316 688 for any questions and inquiries. Also, you are free to send your CV to [email protected]. You can also upload on your profile before you start applying.

The Talent Point

The Talent Point
Thetalentpoint is an online marketplace where businesses can find top talent and job seekers may find their ideal job. It’s a platform designed to connect businesses and job searchers, allowing them to communicate information quickly, efficiently, and affordably.