Following the publication last week of Ministerial Decision No. 279/2020 on employment of non-citizen employees in the private sector during the COVID-19 crisis which changed rules on transfer of employees, salary payments and recruitment, the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has published an addendum to the Decision. This addendum was referred to in Article 5 of Ministerial Decision No. 279/2020. Article 5 says companies looking to reduce the wages of a non-citizen employee temporarily during the relevant period have to conclude a ‘temporary additional appendix’ to the labour contract between the two parties, provided it expires with the expiration of the term of the contract or the period of validity of this Decision, whichever is earlier. It goes on to say the appendix can be renewed with the approval of both parties and two copies must be prepared. Both the employer and employee should keep a copy. The employer will have to submit it to the Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry when asked to do so.
The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has issued Abu Dhabi Circular No. 7/2020 on the work of judges and postponement of trial during the COVID-19 crisis. All courts in Abu Dhabi will postpone trials and appeals which currently have pending decisions for no less than 30 days. In addition, all judges in the urgent courts (including civil, commercial and labour) will work remotely and issue judgments on urgent cases and old cases where the decisions have already been made. Pending judgments will be postponed for no less than 30 days. The Circular also states case registration for initial hearings and appeals will be postponed for no less than 30 days starting from 26 March. Existing judgments will be given without the presence of the parties.
The UAE’s Health Prevention Ministry and the Interior Ministry have announced, there will be a ‘National Disinfection Programme’ which will involve a complete sterilisation of all public utilities, public transport and metro services during the weekend. The programme began at 8:00 PM on 26 March 2020 and ended at 06:00 AM on 29 March 2020 but has been extended.
During this period, the movement of traffic and the public will be restricted and public transportation and metro services will be halted. The public have been urged to stay at home during the disinfection period and not to go out unless it is absolutely necessary to get essential supplies or because they work in vital sectors, including energy, telecommunications, health, education, security, law enforcement, military, postal service, shipping and logistics, medicines, water, food, civil aviation, airports, passports, banking and financial services, government media and the service sectors, including petrol stations and construction. During this period workers’ personal or work identity will be checked and verified.
Abu Dhabi’s Securities Exchange has announced it is temporarily closing its trading halls until further notice because of Coronavirus. The decision was taken following World Health Organisation advice to limit public gatherings. However, the closure will not affect trading operations. In addition, Sahmi services which are based online will continue to be provided.
The UAE’s Securities and Commodities Authority has announced it has approved an initiative to unify the templates used for listed company disclosures. The unified templates have been circulated to all the listed companies and financial markets with the aim of unifying procedures and disclosure requirements in the country’s financial markets.
The Authority’s CEO said the new initiative aims to improve services for investors and traders in the market and ensure the quality of the disclosures published. He added the initiative is also aimed at increasing transparency and ensuring no important information is overlooked.
Dubai International Financial Centre has announced it has launched the first portal for sharing details between companies to facilitate identifying customers using Blockchain technology. The aim is to empower companies and licensed enterprises to open digital bank accounts immediately. The DIFC launched the portal together with Almashreq Bank to implement the initiative which was launched in July 2019. Businesses and companies operating in the UAE can now use this platform.
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi’s Global Market has announced it has updated its Virtual Asset Regulatory Framework. The key amendments include changing the terminology of Crypto Asset to Virtual Asset to align the Market’s terminology with that of the Financial Action Task Force. The applicable regulations and rules from a bespoke category of Operating a Crypto Asset Business have also been moved to the Regulated Activities (e.g. Providing Custody, Operating a Multilateral Trading Facility, Dealing in Investments etc). The aim is to better reflect the nature of the underlying activities related to Virtual Assets.
Dubai’s Ruler has issued Dubai Law No. 3/2020 on the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre. The aim is to improve Dubai’s position as a regional and international destination in trading commodities and commercial and Islamic financing. It is also aimed at attracting investment and local and international companies to make Dubai a centre for their businesses. The Law applies to the Centre in its capacity as a free zone and to the Centre’s authority in its capacity as a public authority. The Centre’s Authority will supervise the Centre and it will be able to establish and develop infrastructure and administrative services in the Centre together with the relevant bodies in the Emirate.
The UAE’s Insurance Authority has announced it is working with a number of other bodies to prepare a draft law on compulsory health insurance for visitors. They stated during a health insurance conference in Dubai that it was important to continue to develop the regulatory and legislative base for this sector. The Authority’s Chairman said it is important to bolster the role of the insurance industry in securing individuals, possessions, and responsibilities against risks in order to protect the national economy.
The Dubai Police’s online service which enables individuals to check their status when a financial case has been registered against them has been used by 57,483 people. The service was initially launched in 2018 and allows people to log on to the Dubai Police website or download the Dubai Police e-app, using a valid Emirates ID to use the service. They can then quickly get information on their case status, including checking if a travel ban has been issued against them. The online service can be used free of charge. The Dubai Police are also understood to be studying the possibility of adding an option for customers to pay up their debts and resolve their cases faster via the online route and have been working with the Dubai Court service on this. The new option will allow people to pay up the full or partial amount to the individual or company which made the complaint to reach a settlement.