Dubai: If you are returning from an international trip while on annual leave, will the subsequent quarantine be considered as part of your annual leave? This was the question raised by a Gulf News reader.
He asked: “I am entitled to my annual leave every year as per UAE law. Last year I was forced by my company to take local leave due to the pandemic situation, which I agreed to as there was no choice. This year when I requested for my annual leave, they are claiming that the 10-day quarantine will be deducted from my annual leave, in which I am allowed to take only 20 days. My father is ill and I also need to be present at my child's christening. Also, due to the current situation my wife lost her job and I am taking them to India. So, I need my 30 days' leave, to ensure that I can send them home happy and spend some precious time with my family. Please advise.”
Gulf News raised the query with Ahmed Elnaggar, Managing Partner at Elnaggar & Partners, who said that with regards to the annual leave during 2020, the employer was not violating the law by asking the employee to take local leave.
“During the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE government had issued several decrees to support businesses and companies. One of them was the provision for employers to ask employees to go on paid and unpaid leaves. So, the employer was compliant with the directives of the government at the time,” Elnaggar said.
As for including the 10-day quarantine within the annual leave, Elnaggar said that how the quarantine period is calculated depends on the reason behind going into quarantine.
“If the employee spends the quarantine days due to being infected with the COVID-19 virus, the period should be treated as sick leave. In such a situation, the patient should provide a sick leave certificate issued by an authorised medical facility, attested by the relevant authority and presented to the employer,” Elnaggar said.
The employee should consider such regulations and the quarantine days related to his personal travelling plans in a way that does not affect the employer or the business
So, if the employer receives the following three documents from the employee, they will have no right to deduct the quarantine days from the employee, according to Elnaggar:
• Positive test result
• Quarantine completion certificate
• Sick leave issued by a medical facility and attested by the emirate’s relevant health authority.
However, if the quarantine is part of travel restrictions and requirement, the period can be deducted from the annual leave.
“This could be a one-day quarantine, in case the person is arriving at Dubai Airport or 10- to 14-day quarantine, in case of arriving through any other airport. Simply because the employee should consider such regulations and the quarantine days related to his personal travelling plans in a way that does not affect the employer or the business.”