Can an employer terminate an employee under the current circumstances resulting from the COVID-19 situation in the UAE?
Generally, as per the UAE Labour Law, the employer cannot terminate an employee without providing a justified reason. But as per the recent Ministerial Resolution 279/2020 dated 26 March 2020 (till it’s valid); establishments affected by such precautionary measures may register details of their surplus non-national workers having permits to work with them before the Virtual Labour Market provided that the establishment remains committed towards their workers in terms of accommodation and payment of all entitlements (except for basic salary) until they leave the UAE or obtain a work permit from another establishment.
The employers affected by this need to provide justification if required to the relevant authority.
If the correct steps are not followed by the employer as per prevailing laws, the employee may have the right to take legal action for unfair dismissal.
Free zone companies are advised to seek further clarifications in this regard from their respective authority as certain free zones for example, the DIFC have their own governing rules and regulations in this regard.