The Covid-19 pandemic and its global implications and fluctuations (the “Covid-19 Implications”) have negatively affected the global economy; however, the said pandemic highlighted several positive points that could not have been raised without the pandemic and the virus exposure all over the world. One of the most important positive points resulted from the Covid-19 Implications is the flexibility in working patterns around the world, particularly, the feasibility of working from home in different sectors and professions.
Initially, employees did not prefer the working from home methodology; due to the difficulty of carrying-out some responsibilities at home. However, we can clearly notice that, most of the employers and employees in different countries and regions, currently, aim to maintain working, fully or partially, from home for seeking more efficiency and flexibility.
Accordingly, and as a mechanism of coping with the worldwide Covid-19 Implications, some of the countries in various regions issued decrees, resolutions and/or circulars adopting the approach of working from home to contain the exposure of the coronavirus.
In conformity with handling and coping with the Covid-19 Implications, the Council of Ministers of the United Arab Emirates (the “Cabinet”) has promulgated the Federal Law No. 33 of 2021 on Regulating the Labour Relations (the “Federal Labour Law”) that revokes the previous Federal Labour Law No. 8 of 1980.
In this regard, the Federal Labour Law will be published in the Official Gazette and takes its effect on 02 February 2022. Furthermore, the Cabinet should issue an Executive Regulation of the Federal Labour Law (the “Executive Regulation”) pursuant to the proposal(s) of the Minister of Human Resources & Emiratisation (i.e., the competent minister).
The Federal Labour Law regulates different patterns of work by virtue of its Article No. 7, which grants the right to employers and employees to mutually agree on the pattern or modality of employment agreement that could be concluded among them; in order to overcome the potential economic milestones that could affect employment relationships in light of the Covid-19 Implications and in accordance with the business needs of each and every entity.
It is worth noting that, the aforementioned Article legalized pursuing existing and commonly-accepted types of employment agreements, including, but not limited to, part-time employment agreements, temporary employment agreements, flexible hours employment agreements and any other patterns stipulated by the Executive Regulation.
Notwithstanding the above, the United Arab Emirates had previously issued some decrees addressing the flexible working hours, temporary works and working remotely mechanism, and by focusing on the newly regulated patterns of work, that were initially generated out of the actual modality of work, we can highlight the regulation of part-time and flexible hours patterns.
First: Part-time pattern:
Since 2010, employees have been allowed to work for more than one (1) employer at the same time conditional to obtaining a temporary employment permit to conduct the same, in this regard, the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation legalized the part-time work pattern by virtue of the decree No. 31 of 2018, which waived the requirement of obtaining the aforementioned temporary employment permit and determined the working hours for part-time pattern either per day or per week.
That being said, the Federal Labour Law stipulates that, both employers and employees shall have the right to mutually agree that; the employee may work for one (1) or more employers for a determined number of hours or days specified for work.
Knowing that, the aforementioned pattern should be mutually agreed upon and regulated among employers and employees for the protection of business needs and the rights of both parties of an employment relationship.
Second: Flexible hours pattern:
The Federal Labour Law establishes and legalizes the flexible hours concept, whereby, both employers and employees may agree on applying work in rotational shifts and/or rotational days mechanism in consistency with the volume of work and the economic and operations’ variables relevant to the employer; as per the business needs.
In our opinion, the Federal Labour Law is an active and effective step towards adapting and legalizing the currently existed approaches pursued by many employers around the world, in addition, the Federal Labour Law protects the rights of both employers and employees along the satisfaction of the business needs; that should be covered in details in the expected Executive Regulation.
Authored by: Mohamed Metawea – Associate