Dubai: Rain in the UAE is a unique experience – deprived of cool weather for the entire summer, residents have smiles plastered across their faces with the welcome relief brought by the rain. However, those smiles can often turn wry when people need to negotiate waterlogged roads.
Last week as heavy rains hit cities across the UAE, many Gulf News readers reported spending hours in their car, on their way to work in the morning. One Gulf News reader who spent four hours negotiating traffic from the outskirts of Sharjah to the heart of Dubai in an already water-damaged car, however, had not seen the worst yet. Afroz S., who works at a start-up in Dubai told Gulf News that her boss then asked to file a partial leave application, where her day’s work would only be paid for half a day.
Writing to Gulf News, she said: “My employer is asking me to fill a leave application when I reached late to work and that I should mention in the form that I took a half day. I got late because of the heavy rain in Sharjah, which flooded the roads and caused a traffic jam. I left for work at 8am, instead of 8:30am on usual days, to be able to reach work at 9:30am. I did not expect the roads to be like this, in fact no one must have or else they would have stayed at home. The traffic was really heavy due to the flooded roads. My friend was given an off from work which is also in Dubai and schools had also sent the children back home. I reached work at 1pm after driving continuously for more than four hours just so that I could reach work. I want to know: Is it right for my employer to cut my salary even though it is evident in the news and I had also sent them pictures of the flooded roads while driving?”
What does the law say?
All labour law related matters are managed by the Ministry of Human Resoures and Emiratisation.
Article 102 and Article 110 of Federal Law 8 of 1980 state:
Disciplinary penalties which may be imposed by the employer or its agent upon its employees are as follows:
3. Suspension from work with reduced pay for a period not exceeding ten days.
4. Forfeiture of deferment of periodic increment in establishments where such increments system is applied.
5. Forfeiture or deferment of promotion in establishments where promotion system is applied.
6. Dismissal from service but reserving right to end of service benefits.
7. Dismissal from service together with forfeiture of all or part of the benefits, provided that penalties shall not be imposed for reasons other than those specifically prescribed in Article (120) of this Law.
Article 110: Any of the penalties prescribed in Article 102 may not be applied on the employee unless he is notified in writing of the charge taken against him and unless his statement is heard and his defence is investigated and unless all that is recorded in a report kept in his personal file. Penalty shall be noted at the bottom of the said report. The employee shall be notified in writing of the kind, amount and reasons of penalties and the action taken against him in case of repetition of the offence.
Article 120: The employer may dismiss the employee without notice in the following cases:
1. If the employee adopts a false identity or nationality or if he submits forged documents or certificates.
2. If the employee is appointed under a probationary period and dismissal occurred during or at the end of said period.
3. If he commits an error causing substantial material loss to the employer provided that the latter advises the labour department of the incident within 48 hours from having knowledge of the same.
4. If the employee violates instructions concerning safety of the place of business provided that such instructions are displayed in writing at conspicuous places and in case of an illiterate employee the latter be informed verbally of the same.
5. If he fails to perform his basic duties under the contract of employment and persists in violating them despite formal investigation with him in this respect and warning him of dismissal if the same is repeated.
6. If he divulges any secrets of the establishment where he is employed.
7. If he is awarded final judgement by the competent court in respect of an offence prejudicing honour, honesty or public morals.
8. If during working hours he is found drunk or under the influence of drug.
9. If in the course of his work he commits an assault on the employer, the manager or any of his colleagues.
10. If he absents himself without lawful excuse for more that twenty intermittent days or for more than seven successive day during one year.
However, these do not specifically mention delays caused in reaching the office due to unforeseen circumstances or unexpected delays, like rains flooding roads. In such situations, the way a case is handled can vary greatly and is dependent on the management and Human Resource department of the company.
What does the Ministry say?
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, however, issued an advisory circular as a reminder to companies to offer flexibility to employees during heavy rains.
In the circular, Nasser Bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, called on establishments to ensure the safety of workers during their commute to and from work during rainy weather, or on days when heavy fog affects visibility on the road.
Employers were also encouraged to raise the level of workers’ awareness on roads during the rain, and to ensure flexible working hours.
What do Human Resource managers say?
Speaking to Gulf News, an HR officer at a Dubai-based firm agreed that the way such a case is managed could vary greatly based on the work culture at your organisation.
Many managers and HR departments also offer flexibility in terms of how you can make up for lost man hours, in case the situation is beyond one’s control.
“Everyone knows the traffic is bad from Sharjah to Dubai. Normally, your boss would understand, but if they don’t they could force you to work longer or forfeit your pay,” she said.
“You could raise the complaint with MOHRE or take the case to the court and you would probably get the ruling in your favour. However, that will make your relationship with your manager a little difficult and they could look at getting rid of you when they get the chance. So, many people might choose to lose half a day’s pay than to jeoperdise their job.”
What recourse can you take?
In case you would like to register your complaint, you can call MOHRE's 24-hour toll-free number 80060.