Dubai: If you suffer an injury or health-related complication in the office as a direct result of the work environment, what are your rights as an employee?
A Gulf News reader shared his friend’s experience, after he suffered an injury at work, to find out what employees should know about when it comes to work-place injuries.
He wrote: “A friend of mine sustained a back injury last year while on his assigned duty at the company premises. After some preliminary medical investigations and X-ray, he was placed on physiotherapy, which he has been undergoing. He was also re-assigned to a less strenuous department to work with.
“The options were to either continue physiotherapy or opt for a life-threatening surgery, which the doctors also advised might not be the solution to the back injury as it may take him up to one year or more before he recovers, if he fully recovers. Kindly advise what are the options as per UAE law and what are his entitlements from the employer? My friend has decided to move on from the company. However, if you still provide a legal opinion on this matter for our education and reference, it will be appreciated.”
The UAE’s Labour Law has detailed provisions, guaranteeing the safety of employees during work and obligates the employers to ensure an appropriate work environment that guarantees the safety of workers.
Chapter eight of the UAE Labour Law specifically deals with compensation for occupational injuries, with articles 142 to 153 laying out the employee’s right of compensation if they suffer an injury during the course of their work.
Where a worker sustains any of the work-related injuries and occupational diseases listed in Schedules 1 and 2 attached to this Law, the employer or his representative shall report the matter immediately to the police and to the labour department or its local office within whose jurisdiction the place of business is located.
The report shall include the worker's name, age, occupation, address, and nationality, and a brief account of the accident, its circumstances and the medical aid or treatment provided.
On receipt of the report, the police shall carry out the necessary investigation and compile a report containing statements of the witnesses, of the employer or his representative, and of the injured (if his condition so permits), and shall particularly indicate whether the accident was work-related, deliberate, or the result of gross misconduct of the worker.
On completion of the investigation, the police shall send one copy of the report to the labour department and one to the employer. The labour department may request a supplementary inquiry or may itself conduct one, if it finds it necessary to do so.
Where a worker sustains a work-related injury or contracts an occupational disease, the employer shall pay for the cost of his treatment in a government or private local medical center until he recovers or is proven disabled. Treatment shall include costs of residence in a hospital or sanatorium, surgical operations, x-ray and medical diagnosis, the purchase of medicines and rehabilitation equipment, and the supply of artificial limbs and other prosthetic appliances for any person who is declared disabled. In addition to the foregoing, the employer shall pay the cost of any transport required in connection with the worker’s treatment.
Where an injury prevents a worker from carrying out his work, the employer shall pay him a cash allowance equal to his full pay throughout the period of treatment or for a period of six months, whichever is shorter. Where the treatment lasts for more than six months, the allowance shall be reduced by one-half for a further period of six months or until the worker fully recovers, is declared disabled, or dies, whichever occurs first.
The cash allowance referred to in the preceding Article shall be calculated on the basis of the last wage received (for monthly, weekly, daily or hourly paid workers), and on the basis of the average daily wage referred to in Article 57 (for those paid on piecemeal basis).
On finalisation of treatment, the attending physician shall compile a report in two copies- one to be delivered to the worker and the other to the employer- in which he shall specify the nature and cause of the injury, the date of its occurrence, the extent to which it is work-related, the period of treatment, whether it resulted in permanent or other disability, the degree of disability (if any), whether it is total or partial, and the extent to which the disabled worker is fit to resume his work despite the disability.
Where a dispute arises as to the extent of a worker's physical fitness for work, degree of disability or any other matter related to his injury or treatment, the matter shall be referred to the Ministry of Health through the competent labour department. The Ministry of Health shall, whenever such a dispute is referred to it, set up a medical board consisting of three government medical officers to determine the extent of the worker's medical fitness for employment, the degree of his disability or any other matter related to the injury or treatment. The board may call in any experts it believes capable of helping it. Its decision shall be final and shall be submitted to the labour department in order that the measures necessary for its implementation may be taken.
Where a worker dies as a result of a work-related injury or an occupational disease, the members of his family shall be entitled to compensation equal to his basic wage for 24 months, provided that the amount of compensation shall neither be less than Dh18,000 nor more than Dh35,000. The amount of compensation shall be calculated on the basis of the last wage received by the worker before his death. The compensation shall be distributed among the deceased worker's dependents in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 3 attached to this Law.
For the purposes of this Article the expression “deceased worker's family” refers to the following persons who were wholly or substantially dependent for their subsistence on the deceased worker's income at the time of his death:
2. Children, namely-
• Sons who are under 17 years of age, and also sons who are regularly enrolled in educational institutions and are under 24 years of age or who are too mentally or physically incapacitated to earn their own living. The term “sons” includes the sons in law of the husband and of the wife who were dependent on the deceased worker at the time of his death;
• Unmarried daughters, which term includes also unmarried daughters in law of the husband and of the wife who were dependent on the deceased worker at the time of his death;
4. Brothers and sisters, subject to the conditions prescribed for sons and daughters.
Where a work-related injury or an occupational disease permanently renders a worker partial disabled, he shall be entitled to compensation at the applicable rate specified in the two schedules attached to this Law, multiplied by the applicable death compensation amount provided for in the first paragraph of the preceding Article.
The amount of compensation payable to a worker in the event of his permanent total disability shall be the same amount as that payable in the event of his death.
The Minister of Labour, when necessary, and with the consent of the Minister of Health, may amend schedules I and 2 attached hereto, concerning occupational diseases, and disability compensation assessment.
An injured worker shall not be entitled to any compensation for an injury or disability that did not result in his death if the inquiries carried out by the competent authorities established that he willfully brought about his own injury with the intention of committing suicide or of obtaining compensation or sick leave, or for any other reason; or if, at the time of the occurrence, he was under the influence of a narcotic drug or alcohol; or if he intentionally violated the safety instructions posted at conspicuous positions in the workplace; or if his injury or disability was the result of gross and deliberate misconduct on his part; or if he refused for no good reason to submit to medical examination or to undergo the treatment ordered by a medical board set up pursuant to Article 148.
In such circumstances, the employer shall not be required to provide treatment for the worker or to pay him any cash allowance.
Reaching out to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE)
By law, employers must inform MOHRE within 24 hours from the incident, in case of an injury or death at the workplace.
Employer/s can contact the ministry by:
• calling on 80060
• sending an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Employees who wish to raise their specific concerns with MOHRE can call the Ministry’s toll-free number on 800 60.