Sunday 26 March 2023 - 11:49:45 pm

Local Press: UAE unemployment insurance and a better model for post-pandemic work life

ABU DHABI, 3rd January, 2023 (WAM) -- A UAE newspaper has said that 2023 is widely expected to be the year the pandemic recedes after it had caused so many workers to detach themselves from office life, noting that many researchers have found that hybrid arrangements can lead to greater productivity.

“But perhaps the greatest benefit of the new normal is the focus on talent retention,” said The National in an editorial on Tuesday. Hybrid work offers a straightforward way to maintain the flexibility that technologies and workflows have afforded employees and employers during the pandemic. It is a more attractive and, in the long-run, cheaper solution than pre-pandemic strategies like outsized bonuses or the Silicon Valley cliche of ping pong tables and bean bag chairs in common areas.

“The post-pandemic race for talent retention extends beyond companies. In some Gulf countries, where attracting and keeping the best workers is part of national development, governments are finding that lifestyle – and a sense of security – matters at least as much as pay packets,” added the daily.

In the UAE, labour law reforms introduced during the pandemic have set a new regional standard for employees’ rights, incorporating part-time, remote and flexible working into protections for expatriate workers. The country has also introduced new visa categories to promote freelancing and remote working for foreign companies, in further recognition of changing attitudes towards working life.

This month, the Emirates has also seen a new unemployment insurance scheme come into effect. The programme, which is compulsory for all public and private sector employees outside the country’s free zones, costs between AED5 ($1.36) and AED10 a month, depending on an employee’s most recent basic salary level. Upon termination, employees will receive up to 60 percent of their basic salary amount for a period of three months.

The paper went on to say, "Initiatives like greater unemployment insurance benefits have another upside in post-pandemic life. Even in the richest countries, a majority of workers must be physically present in order to carry out their work. Where flexibility is not an option, the pandemic has reinforced the message that society must offer other ways of guaranteeing workers’ sense of security.”

“Overall, 2023 will be a year in which policymakers, employers and workers alike will demonstrate a greater understanding of the relationship between life outside the office and life within it. While there are many economic hurdles to get through before the world can be said to have recovered from what the past three years have wrought, immediate progress has been shown through structural changes to how we perceive and honour employees’ needs,” concluded the Abu Dhabi-based daily.

Rola AlGhoul/ Esraa Esmail