Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Tomorrow’s world of work after Covid-19: United Arab Emirates

Out-Law Analysis | 15 Jul 2021 | 3:44 pm | 1 min. read

Workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seem set to benefit from increased flexibility in the post Covid-19 world.

The UAE is currently the country which has vaccinated the largest proportion of its population, once countries with populations of under one million are excluded: as of 15 July, the country had administered over 16m doses of a Covid vaccine, with 76.2% of its 9.77m population having received at least one dose and 66.7% now fully vaccinated.

The country’s large expatriate population and reliance on global mobility are likely to influence changing attitudes to work in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Dealing with the pandemic

Many UAE employees have continued to work from their usual place of work during Covid-19, albeit not necessarily on a full-time basis. Planning a full-scale return back to the workplace is therefore less of an issue here than elsewhere in the world, where greater numbers of employees have regularly been working from home.

Tapp Luke

Luke Tapp

Partner

Planning a full-scale return back to the workplace is less of an issue in the UAE than elsewhere in the world, where greater numbers of employees have regularly been working from home

Unlike in some other jurisdictions where there are restrictions on requesting information about vaccination status, UAE employers are relatively free to seek voluntary disclosure from their employees about whether they have been vaccinated. They also have considerable freedom to put in place policies to restrict what those that have not been vaccinated can do while at work – for example, limiting their ability to participate in large group meetings.

Changes to working practices

Before Covid-19, it was relatively unusual for UAE employees to work from home, However, the pandemic has accelerated the move towards hybrid working, with an increasing number of employees seeking to take advantage of more flexible arrangements.

Similarly, part-time working was relatively rare in the UAE – but the economic downturn in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic led to employers in the region looking at potential cost-saving measures, including ways to reduce employee costs. Some employers sought to move employees to part-time working patterns, and this has been successful and has resulted in an increase in part-time roles.

Tomorrow’s world of work

Historically, only those who were employed locally were able to obtain the required visa to work in the UAE. The UAE is now moving away from this connection between employment and visa status, which will allow individuals to work as independent consultants rather than employees.

We are also seeing multinational employers reimagining their approach to the Gulf region as a result of the limitations on travel caused by the pandemic. For some, this means increasing their presence in the UAE to ensure that their business model is not reliant on regular travel into the region by staff who live overseas.