UAE orders all staff to work from home for 2 weeks

ABU DHABI 27 March 2020: The Federal Authority For Government Human Resources (FAHR) will activate the Remote Work System for all ministries, authorities, and federal institutions, effective Sunday, March 29th, for a renewable period of two weeks.

According to the decision, which will be subject to revision and reassessment, a maximum of 30 percent of the workforce of each entity concerned is allowed to be physically present in office while others whose jobs don’t necessitate their physical presence will be working remotely.

FAHR’s announcement exempts a number of vital sectors, including energy, telecommunications, health, education, security, police, military, postal services, cargo, pharmaceuticals, water, food, civil aviation, airports, identity & citizenship, finance & banking, government media, and services, which include filling service stations, and construction projects in addition to any other sectors to be exempted by the government of the UAE for public interest.

FAHR calls upon all sector to utilise smart technology while practicing the remote work system in addition to providing all possible electronic channels and platforms to ensure efficiency. All sectors are also required to identify standard timeframes and mechanisms for every task assigned to each employee and identify the management system of remote work in terms of workhours, be it a standard or flexible work schedule per day, week or month.

The employees working remotely are obligated to come physically to office whenever asked by their employers and to perform their work as per the set time-frames. While working remotely, they have to be available all the time to respond to all business calls and emails in addition to ensuring confidentiality of data and utilising worktime in performing the tasks assigned to them in the best possible manner. They are also required to provide all evidence requested by their employers to confirm their accomplishments, and productivity in addition to keeping their remote work appliances safe and secure.

Only 30% of private sector staff’ allowed to be in office

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE), has decided that a maximum of 30 percent of the workforce of private entities is allowed to be physically present in office while others whose jobs don’t necessitate their physical presence will be working remotely, effective Sunday 29th March.

The decision coincides with the implementation of the ‘Remote Work System’ for those whose jobs don’t entail physical presence in office.

MoHRE emphasizsed that private entities should consider minimising the number of customers visiting their service centres to 30 percent of these centres’ seating capacity and to strictly observe health and safety precautions, such as keeping enough distance between customers, as well as disinfection of devices and utilities.

This came in a resolution issued by Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, on regulating remote work at UAE-based private entities as part of the precautionary measures taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus, Covid-19, in coordination with the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

The resolution will go into effect from Sunday 29th March for a two-week period, which is renewable, subject to assessments.

Exemptions

The decision exempts a number of activities, including infrastructure projects, catering, telecommunications, power, health, education, banking, food processing, health supplies manufacturing and cleaning firms.

The resolution stipulates compliance with the precautionary and preventive measures by all workers whose jobs require physical presence at workplaces or labour accommodations. Under these measures, private entities must provide screening devices at their entrances to take temperature and check symptoms of the virus among workforce on a daily basis twice: before entry in the morning and upon return for evening shifts. Suspected cases should be prohibited from going to work or entering their accommodations before referring them to relevant health authorities.

The decision calls upon these entities to put in place a mechanism for transporting workers to and from their workplaces, ensuring that the number of transported workers should not exceed 25 percent of vehicle seating capacity. Employers should also ban gatherings and convening of cultural, social and sporting activities at workers’ accommodation, while minimising the number of workers at the accommodation’s canteens during mealtime and maintaining at least a two-metre space between every two workers.

Report cases

The decision requires private establishments to report any worker with coronavirus symptoms or any suspected cases, while following relevant authorities’ instructions concerning those who perform delivery of goods and services to customers.

According to the decision, the Remote Work System should apply to all employees and workers whose jobs don’t entail their physical presence at workplaces, with priority to be given to pregnant women, employees aged 60 and above, people of determination, employees with respiratory and chronic diseases and mothers of children in G-9 and below subject to the approval of their HR Departments.

The decision also stressed that all private establishments should harness the power of technology, including smart digital platforms with online support capabilities. Private service suppliers to government entities should coordinate with service recipients to ensure business continuity.

According to a guide issued by the Ministry on regulations of remote work in private establishments, employer obligations include provision of necessary technical tools to perform work remotely by using smart platforms, while ensuring confidentiality of information and documents. The employees should also utilise the remote work time to perform the required tasks and to provide a proof of productivity and to return all devices used during the remote work period whenever required.

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