The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR), in cooperation with the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, issued a guide for remote work in the federal entities, following the announcement of the UAE Government to implement remote work system for certain job categories in the Federal Government as of Sunday 15 March, in light of the precautionary measures to limit the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the country.
The guide aims to maintain safety of Federal Government employees, help all federal entities to implement the instructions, and ensure continuity of performing business and providing all government services under emergency circumstances, through controls and steps to be taken when applying remote work system.
The guide, which applies to all ministries and federal bodies, includes a definition, types, and purpose of remote work. It also specifies implementation mechanism, scope, controls for this type of work, as well as criteria for selecting suitable jobs for remote work, and obligations of both the entity and employee working remotely in emergency situations.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources confirmed that it is responsible for interpreting all regulations and systems related to the guide, in coordination with the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and all federal entities must refer to the Authority in all matters that they encounter when implementing the provisions these guidelines and any other document to be issued later in this regard.
The authority explained that the guide aims to provide the ministries and federal entities with the necessary mechanisms to implement remote work under emergency conditions, through the use of smart and electronic systems approved by the Federal Government or the federal entity.
The Authority assured that it had taken all the necessary steps that would enable employees of the federal entities to register attendance and departure electronically during work remotely, through HR Management Information System "Bayanati". in the Federal Government, according to an electronic mechanism that would be circulated to all entities, In order to ensure that the employees perform the tasks required of them in a proper manner.
The guide defined remote work as one of the alternative work options that ensure continued business performance and service provision away from the office, permanently, partially, or on demand. In this case, communication between the employee and his entity takes place is electronically, that is, through the use of electronic smart systems applied in the Federal Government or the federal entity.
Objectives of Remote Work:
Working remotely, as explained in the guide, is to provide multiple work options for employees, especially in emergencies, epidemics and precautionary measures and ensure continuity of business under emergencies.
Types of remote work:
According to the guide, remote work is divided into two types: partial remote work where the employee can, at the request of his employer, divide work time between the original workplace and remote workplace in equal or different proportions per day/week/month, and full-time remote work which applies to jobs that can be performed completely from outside the original workplace.
Scope of implementation:
The guides states that federal entities may apply remote work according to their needs, nature of jobs and quality of services provided, to the following categories of employees: pregnant women (on providing medical report); people of determination; those with chronic diseases, respiratory problems and weak immune system (on providing medical report); employees aged 60 and above; and mothers of children in G-9 and below with duties that do not necessitate physical presence at workplace (according to a certificate from the employer).
The guide also clarified that in emergency cases that require certain employees in the aforementioned target group, they may be excluded from the decision to perform tasks in coordination with their entities.
According to the guide, contract of services provided through outsourcing are excluded form remote work system, and the federal entities have to decide mechanisms for implementing these contracts in a manner that serves the interest of the entity and does not conflict with employees work under emergency conditions.
General controls for remote work:
The Guide to Remote Work stresses that the federal entities need to observe, while allowing the above categories to work remotely, a set of controls: the job should be among the group targeted for remote work; the employee must be honest and trustworthy; committed to the quality of the outcomes, and data accuracy and confidentiality of information. priority of choice is currently for returnees from outside the country due to spread of coronavirus pandemic. In all cases, the application of remote work to these or other categories is subject to the employer’s requirements.
Implementing Time Frame:
Remote work in the federal entities begins under emergency circumstances in accordance with the time frames determined by the competent authorities in the UAE, provided that the implementation of remote work does not violate responsibilities and tasks assigned to entities by law.
Criteria for choosing suitable jobs for remote work
The guide sets a number of criteria to be observed when choosing jobs that suit performing remotely. For example, federal entities can determine the appropriate jobs for remote work in accordance with the following criteria: jobs must be of divisible nature; be subject to automation’ require specific inputs that are handled through electronic systems, in addition to any other criteria to be agreed upon with the Authority. Federal entities may, under emergency circumstances, implement remote work to eligible categories, despite not meeting all or some of the conditions mentioned herein.
Federal entities should set up controls and mechanisms for the implementation of remote work to ensure efficiency and productivity, provided that they coordinate with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to provide the infrastructure and applications necessary to implement remote work in a manner that ensures safety and confidentiality of information and cybersecurity standards set by TRA and other competent authorities in the state.
The guide also underlines the importance of observing a number of controls when applying remote work. These include: adapting remote work requirements to suit the nature of work, job categories and health conditions of eligible groups, with an emphasis on the importance of abiding by duties and responsibilities assigned to those entities by law. The entity shall ensure that its services are readily available to customers and the public and available through websites, smart applications etc, encourage all customers to benefit from smart services as a basic option rather than personal visits to service centers, using technological media and providing technical facilities for all employees, such as ZOOM, MS Teams, VPN, Skype for Business, or any other means available, providing technical equipment for holding periodic meetings, following up progress electronically, and accessing the main and subsidiary electronic systems for performing business in the entity, (e,g, Bayanati System, Customer Service systems, etc.) as well as completing the performance of the tasks and responsibilities assigned to them and monitoring achievements.
The guide encourages using the available communication means by the work teams and internal committees within the federal entity so that members can know the latest developments through the entity’s work groups, internal portals, WhatsApp, telegram, etc.
It also underscores the imoptance of monitoring remote work implementation and documenting achievements through assessing productivity of employees involved in remote work, ensuring quality and accuracy of outcomes, Specifying the time frames for providing services, carrying out tasks and delivering projects, as well as applying governance and cybersecurity standards on using various technological methods in the implementation of remote work system and any other controls that the employer deems appropriate in this regard.