The DIFC Authority has announced a Presidential Directive in respect of Covid-19, effective from 21 April 2020 through to the end of what they have called the "Emergency Period", which is up until 31 July 2020, or any other date confirmed by the President.The Directive implements a number of measures, some of which are likely to find favour with employers and some with employees. In this podcast, Partner Rebecca Ford outlines the key terms of the new Directive.

Key terms in the Directive are:

  • Employers may introduce a number of emergency measures, without employee consent, on five days' notice.  Those measures are:
  • - Reduced working hours

    - Imposing remote working conditions, for example in relation to measuring employee engagement and productivity.

    - Restricting workplace access; and

    - Reducing remuneration on a temporary basis

    - Imposing an unpaid leave period

    - A requirement to take holiday leave

  • The provisions in the Employment Law regarding workplace health & safety will not apply during the Emergency Period.
  • The cancellation of a residence visa of terminated employees may be deferred.  However, where the employer is in the retail, service or hospitality industries, and provided accommodation to the employee during employment, this must continue after termination until their visas are cancelled.
  • Any sick leave taken during the Emergency Period as a consequence of having contracted Covid-19 or been placed in quarantine, will not be counted towards their sick leave entitlement, and the employer should pay sick pay at 100% of daily wage.
  • If an employee's basic wage has been reduced in the period from 1 March 2020, the gratuity which would otherwise be payable prior to the commencement of the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings Plan must accrue at the higher rate of salary which was paid on 29 February 2020.
  • The DIFC are also putting in place an Available Employee Database, which shall be maintained by the Government Services Office, for any terminated employees or those surplus to current needs, so that these may be hired by third parties looking for recruits.

The DIFC Directive is a very timely addition to the guidance being provided by the DIFC Authority and will relieve some of the anxieties suffered by both employers and employees during this unusual time.

Originally published 22 April, 2020

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