Dubai: With a big chunk of the working population shifting to a remote working environment during COVID-19 last year, many employees were working from their homes in the UAE. However, if you have noticed an increase in your phone, electricity or telecommunications bills, can you ask your company to compensate you for it? This was the query raised by a Gulf News reader.
He said: “I have been working from home since March, and this is causing my internet and electricity bills to go up. We are also facing a major salary cut. Can I ask my company to reimburse the bill as the difference is high when working from home and working from office?”
Gulf News raised the query with Reda Hegazy, Senior Legal Associate and Arbitrator at Al Suwaidi and company, advocates and legal consultants, who spoke about how COVID-19 had created unique circumstances within which businesses were operating.
“The costs or expenses of the work are not covered in the UAE Labour Law or any Ministerial decree. Therefore, we have to go back to public rules in the civil law to find a text to apply on this case. As per article 913 of the UAE Civil Law, ‘the employer must provide full safety and security at his establishments and provide all means necessary to enable the employee to carry out his obligations’,” he said.
Based on this article the cost incurred by the employee for any work done should be borne by the employer. Hegazy added that even if there was no policy on reimbursement in the company, it can do so as a goodwill gesture.
“It is a good practice to reimburse an employee for expenses incurred in his or her job, because it builds employee morale and makes the employee work efficiently. The company has already saved money on overhead expenses like electricity and maintenance while the employees are working from home,” Hegazy said.
It is a good practice to reimburse an employee for expenses incurred in his or her job, because it builds employee morale and makes the employee work efficiently.
Burden of proof
However, to be able to prove that working from home has been the cause of the rise in monthly bills would be difficult, according to Hegazy.
“The burden of proof shall be obligated on the employee. So, if the employee had work from home and the electricity, water or telephone bills were more than usual, and he has proof that the increasing of the bills was caused due to working from home, then he can request the employer to pay him the increased amount as a part of the work cost,” he said.