Early Leave Initiative by UAE

The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) has launched an ‘Early Leave’ initiative for all expat private sector employees which would allow them to temporarily return to their home country during the time that the Covid-19 precautionary measures are in effect in the UAE.

The Initiative’s primary goal is to provide employers with a less expensive alternative to redundancy, which is one of the legal actions under Ministerial Resolution 279. According to the Resolution, employers with an excess of foreign workers must continue to pay housing and food allowances (instead of salary) and make those workers available to other businesses via the Virtual Labor Market. The “Early Leave” package responds to the “Redundancy” route’s ongoing financial challenge to companies by providing a more financially efficient way: the temporary repatriation of foreign workers.

Requirements for Early Leave Initiative

The initiative will be available to all onshore private sector employees, provided the following requirements are complied with:

  1. Both the employer and employee will need to complete and sign a supplementary form available through the MOHRE website and on the MOHRE app. The form must state the full leave duration, and will be temporarily appended to the employee’s MOHRE employment contract.
  2. The employer is obligated to arrange and fund a return travel ticket for the employee, which should be provided to MOHRE as evidence of the employee’s intention to return the country following the revocation of the COVID-19 measures.

MOHRE has advised that if the employee’s residence visa expires whilst the employee is out of the country on Early Leave, this will be automatically renewed on the employee’s behalf.

As previously stated, the Initiative seeks to lessen, but not eliminate, the burden on employers who are tempted to terminate employees violating the law during this time. However, the Initiative provides employers with an additional option in addition to those offered by Resolution 279 for doing so. As a result, in addition to working remotely, granting absences, or cutting compensation, employees also have the choice to permit their personnel to return home temporarily.

Throughout the Early Leave, the Employment Contract is still in full force and effect. Therefore, if an employee refuses, the employer may use the legal means available to retaliate against them, starting with absences, warnings, salary deductions, termination of employment, or even more severe charges like fleeing the country.