NEWS – 16 October 2020
Equal pay – UAE private sector equal pay law now in force
The UAE has updated its labour law to require equal pay for men and women who perform "the same work" or work of "equal value". The law, which took effect on 25 September, is intended to strengthen the UAE's commitment to gender equality in the workplace, according to a government press release. Arab News is the region's leading English newspaper and it quotes The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization saying that the new law has elevated the country’s regional and international reputation in gender equality. What work counts as work of "equal value" will be based on guidance and further details set by the government. It is expected that market standards will be used as a reference in wage assessments.
Dubai-based lawyer Luke Tapp commenting in Outlaw explains that UAE government and the Gender Balance Council have, over the past few years, been proactive in seeking to improve and develop gender equality within the UAE and this latest development is another example of the authorities implementing significant change within the private sector workforce. Earlier this year the UAE became the first Arab country to grant paid parental leave to all private sector employees - male employees are now entitled to five days paid leave in the six months following the birth of a child – more on that next week. Meanwhile let's hear more about the new equal pay law. Luke Tapp joined me by video-link from Dubai:
Luke Tapp: “The background to the Equal Pay legislation that was introduced last month into the UAE is that it was introduced, following some consultation between the UAE authorities government, the private sector, and of course, the gender balance committee. And the objective, of course, is to achieve equality in respect of remuneration between the two genders. And there's always been a principle of equal pay for equal work under the UAE labour law. But that has never been implemented through the courts in the way that I think the authorities had anticipated that it would be. So this development in legislation, it actually changes article 32 of the UAE labour law changes the wording within it, and will give the authorities and will give the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation and is likely to end up giving the Dubai Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE courts more authority to implement equal pay and to penalise companies who are failing to adhere to that principle. On a practical level, at the moment, the practical advice for our clients is to review their PayPal policies and review their pay scales and, of course, review the payroll and to make sure that where they are, they're achieving equality in relation to pay arrangements between the genders. Because the new wording in Article 32 talks about the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation coming up with new procedures, coming up with new policies to help the private sector to achieve that principle of equal pay. And so we expect the legislation to continue to evolve the regulations to continue to evolve. So all the companies and employers can do at the moment is like I say, just review the pay policies, the pay scales and the payroll to make sure that they're achieving quality wherever they can.”
Mental health – companies that fail to consider employees' mental health will 'struggle to thrive'
Last Saturday, 10 October, was World Mental Health Day, a day when organisations might be considering more deeply than usual what their obligations are to their employees' mental health. A name that is frequently heralded as a mental health and diversity champion is Barclays managing director Philip Aiken. He was the driving force behind the high-profile Mindful Business Charter, the initiative launched by the bank designed to mitigate unnecessary stress for in-house and external lawyers. His message is organisations which don't adapt and take employees' mental health seriously will fail to attract and keep the best people and will struggle to thrive. Philip is one of the interviewees in the latest Brain Food For General Counsel podcast - a monthly look at the biggest issues your organisation faces with help and advice from experts, legal and otherwise. In this episode Philip is joined by Alastair Campbell, former communications adviser to UK prime minister Tony Blair, and Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons who both talk about operating under pressure while dealing with depression. If you would like to listen to that podcast you can – we have put a link to it on our website for you. Also contributing to that programme is our diversity and inclusion consultant Kate Dodd who talks about the practical measures companies can take to help in this area, as well as the challenge of changing an organisation’s culture. So let’s hear what Kate had to say. The programme is hosted by Matthew Magee and he put the question to Kate: what should companies be doing about mental health given it’s an area where many managers often feel quite uncomfortable.
Podcast – Brain Food for General Counsel - Mental health and work
Kate Dodd: “This has always been a problem for employers is that mental health is often something that hasn't been spoken about and often the first time an employer finds out about somebody having a mental health condition is when there is some sort of issue or a breakdown or an absence from work. And then it becomes a question of should the employer have known? You know would a reasonable employer have known that that person was susceptible or was suffering? From a kind of a organisational level the types of things that a GC should be thinking about are: do we talk about mental health, do I feel comfortable about putting the words mental health into an email, or do I think oh I'd better call it wellbeing rather than mental health? Because those are the kind of flags that often demonstrate that it's a real taboo subject within a business. And another really good flag is do senior people talk about their own lived experiences of mental health in my organisation? And for a GC that's a very good question to ask themselves. Because if the answer is no, then it's likely that those conversations, if they're happening, will be happening behind closed doors and of course what we know is that the more stigma that exists within an organisation the less likely there are to be having these conversations day to day and to be able to spot, to help to assist and of course to create that kind of much more human working environment. The legal obligations that an employer has are around duty of care etc. disability, discrimination. The far more important aspect in some ways is how an employee is being treated, whether they feel they're being treated fairly or unfairly because that's what will make an employee stay with the business and its also what will make an employer's brand either be a positive brand or it will be quite a toxic brand that people do not want to work for.”
Matthew Magee: “Kate has described this as a culture change, and that frightens people because culture is so notoriously impervious to change. She says: don't believe the hype. It will take time – years probably – but it is possible. We just need, as in many other aspects of this, not to treat mental health as different to other parts of working life.”
Kate Dodd: “Just look at it like any other type of change. I think businesses sometimes get very caught up with this idea about culture change, saying 'well it's impossible to change a culture' and of course it isn't. And if culture change is approached with the same type of organisation and framework as any other type of change within a business then that is a really good place to start. And we have looked at this in exactly the same way as we would look at any other type of change, we've got together a group of people who are responsible for dealing with it, we have made sure that we have got the right people in the right places, that it is somebody's day job. I think sometimes the problem with culture change is people think it's quite a difficult thing to measure and therefore people should be doing it off the side of their desks. They might see it as not being core to strategy for example. An important aspect of culture change is making sure that it is not dismissed as being something that will take too long. Because culture change does take years, so I think it's a case of making sure that there is can acknowledgement that this is going to take time. That maybe there is a three to five year plan. That people approach it with that aspect in mind so that over the course of three years or five years or however long it takes they can see that they are moving in the right direction.”
E-learning – what courses do have and at what cost?
Finally to our FAQ slot and a question we have been asked by a number of clients recently - what e-learning courses do we have? With many staff working from home e-learning provides a perfect opportunity for both employees and managers to up skill. The answer is we have 5 e-learning courses - so we have a trio of courses in our Management Essentials series covering Disciplinary & Grievance Hearings, Investigations and Capability plus our pair of courses on Sexual Harassment, one for employees and one for managers. A question we have been asked often in recent weeks is how many employees can access the training and at what cost? The answer is we don’t operate a subscription model. Instead all the modules come with a licence for an unlimited number of users which means hundreds of people can all be trained for a one-off purchase cost, with the option to repeat the training as many times as you like without any further cost. Each of the three Management Essentials modules is priced at £3,500, or if you buy all three modules together, £9,000 and most clients who have purchased so far have opted for that discounted package. As for the Harassment modules they cost £3,750 each. Included for that cost is a degree of tailoring – adding your organisation’s logo throughout and including your organisation’s policies and procedures and any other documentation you'd like to add. If you would like to have a closer look at any of the modules you can, we are offering a free demonstration so please do get in touch if this might be something you want to consider for your staff. As we said, if you have staff currently working from home this is a very good time for them to take on this sort of training.
For now from me that’s the news. Good bye.
- Link to Brain Food for General Counsel podcast