‘Will I be fined if my staff don’t join the unemployment scheme?’

The responsibility for joining the mandatory plan lies with employees and they will be fined if they fail to subscribe by the October 1 deadline

All employees in the UAE should register for the Involuntary Loss of Employment scheme by October 1. Getty Images
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Question: I run a company with 30 staff. I know there is now an unemployment scheme that all staff have to subscribe to but some still haven’t done this, even though I have given them details.

As the deadline has passed, will I, as their employer, be fined for their non-compliance? JT, Abu Dhabi

Answer: The Involuntary Loss of Employment scheme, known as ILOE, was first announced as long ago as 2018, but came into effect at the start of this year.

The deadline to register has been moved a few times and the latest update is that all employees must be registered by October 1. This was confirmed by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation on June 15.

At the same time, the ministry announced that more than 4.6 million people had already subscribed to the scheme.

The responsibility for joining the scheme lies with employees and it is mandatory to subscribe.

How to sign up for UAE's unemployment insurance scheme

How to sign up for UAE's unemployment insurance scheme

The ministry’s press release on June 15 said: “The scheme covers workers in the federal government and the private sector – citizens and residents – with the exception of investors [owners of the establishments where they work], domestic workers, temporary contract workers, juveniles under 18 years of age, and retirees who are earning a retirement pension and have started a new job.”

If an eligible individual fails to subscribe – bearing in mind there has been a lot of leeway with the deadlines – they can be personally fined. The fine is set at Dh400 ($108).

This is significantly more than is payable in premiums, so it seems pointless to defer an application.

Premiums are Dh5 per month for employees with a basic salary of up to Dh16,000 and Dh10 per month for those earning more than Dh16,000.

An individual has to be in the scheme for 12 months before a claim for payment can be made following termination of employment.

Benefits can be paid for up to three months, subject to policy terms and conditions.

For anyone who has not yet applied, you can do so via this link.

Q: My husband sponsors me, but a company has offered me a role for two months. It is for a specific event as I have some knowledge in this area, but I don’t want to be a permanent employee.

The company isn’t large and does not have an HR person, but they are considered semi-government. They don’t know how to employ me to make this role legal.

Is there a way that I can work for them for this short period? GF, Dubai

A: As you already have a UAE residency visa and Emirates ID, you only require a work permit to be legally employed.

Most are issued for a period of two or three years, but there is an option to obtain a permit for much shorter periods of time.

Temporary work permits can be valid for 21 days, 30 days, 90 days, 180 days or one year, and are relevant for people who work in the government and semi-government sectors.

The employer will need to issue an employment contract and obtain a letter of no objection from your sponsor. They can apply via UAE Pass or a Happiness Centre for a fee of Dh300 plus value-added tax and knowledge and innovation fees of Dh10 each.

Q: My employer is refusing to pay me for some days I took off as I was too sick to go to the office.

This was one day in May and three days in June. I called to let them know that I was not well and I worked harder when I went back so all my work was done.

I have been with the company for nearly two years and have not been ill at any other time. What does the law say about taking time off work if sick? SP, Dubai

A: It is normal to be unwell occasionally and for short periods like this, your salary should be paid in full.

Salaries are payable in accordance with Article 31 of the labour law, which says: “The worker may be entitled to a sick leave of not more than 90 continuous or intermittent days per year, provided that it is calculated as follows: a. The first 15 days with full pay; b. the following 30 days with half pay; c. the following period unpaid.”

The UAE government website advises: “The employee must inform his employer about his sickness within a maximum of three days and submit a medical report on his condition, issued by the medical entity.”

Should the employer make unlawful deductions for these days of illness, the employee can register a case against them with the MOHRE.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 30 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only

Updated: August 27, 2023, 5:00 AM