Government department employees in Abu Dhabi, including mothers, elderly people and those with respiratory problems will be working from home beginning next week as the authorities step up measures to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The Abu Dhabi government announced that it has activated the "remote work" system for some of its employees, given government's advanced technical system and technological readiness.
The Dubai Executive Council has also outlined a range of precautionary steps to ensure the health and safety of government employees and contribute to local and international efforts to combat Covid-19.
The move comes as part of the Dubai Government's preventive measures against the pandemic, and under the directives of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council.
The measures include suspending fingerprint attendance machines and activating the 'Smart Employee' app or alternative attendance systems; and allowing pregnant female employees, elderly employees, employees with disabilities and those with diseases that compromise the immune system to work from home.
Remote work system in the capital
"Enhancing the series of preventative and precautionary measures taken by the government to ensure the safety and health of its human resources, remote work is focused on elderly employees, working mothers and employees who suffer from chronic diseases and respiratory symptoms," said a statement from the Abu Dhabi Government Media Office.
The executive committee of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council also issued a resolution forming the Higher Committee of Digital Government, chaired by Ali Rashid Al Ketbi, Chairman of the Department of Government Support.
"The committee will be responsible for activating the governance of the digital transformation. This will enhance the digital government ecosystem," officials said.
Activating digital ecosystem
Last week, authorities said efforts were under way in cooperation with various federal government institutions to ensure readiness for work from home.
Seif Jumah Al Dhahiri, official spokesperson for the National Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, said: "Various institutions are discussing with their employees to see how distance working or work from home can be conducted," he said.
Al Dhahiri noted that the authority, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, has already succeeded in implementing the distance learning initiative for students following the announcement to suspend schools for four weeks for the safety of students.
"This is really a good precautionary measure, especially for the old people and the ill because they have weak immune systems. It's good that they work from home for their protection and to prevent them from interacting with the public," said Khalid Waheed, who works for a government department.
Employees hail new measures
Emirati mother Amna Nasser said working from home will enable her to look after her kids who are in the spring break since she's been leaving them with the housemaids.
"I understand I'm allowed to work from home starting from next week as our HR has indicated," said Nasser, who works for a public department in Abu Dhabi.
"Besides protecting us from the risks of having close contact with other people as my job involves attending to customers, the initiative will help me monitor my children who will be having classes through the distance learning programme."
She said their department is already digitalised with all the necessary technologies in place and can enable everyone wok from anywhere and deliver good services.
The UAE authorities have always reminded the public to be extra cautious, follow precautionary measures from health authorities including maintaining good hygiene in all places of work and in homes, to wash hands with water and soap, cover the nose and mouth when sneezing, avoid close contacts with people and public assemblies, not to shake or great others with hands and to limit travelling outside the country unless when necessary.
Measures adopted in Dubai
Each department has been authorised to take additional precautionary measures in coordination with concerned bodies including sterilisation of the facility, furniture, office equipment, vehicles and elevators. All departments have also been directed to encourage their customers to use online customer service apps; postpone non-critical overseas assignments and training programmes, especially in high-risk countries; use online meeting technologies; and raise awareness about essential precautionary measures among employees.
Employees returning from overseas trips have been directed to stay at home until it is proven that they are not infected. In such cases, employees will receive their full salary and be allowed to work from home.
Maximum flexibility in working conditions
Abdulla Al Basti, secretary-general of the Dubai Executive Council, said the government places the highest priority on the health and well-being of its employees. He explained that the preventive measures are aligned with the leadership's directives to provide maximum flexibility in working conditions. The measures have taken into consideration the needs of the family and community, Al Basti added.
He said: "Sheikh Hamdan directed us to implement all procedures required to protect Dubai Government employees and their families. Accordingly, the General Secretariat of the Executive Council has outlined measures that ensure a balance between protecting government employees and ensuring normal workflow in the government sector."
The Director-General of the Dubai Government Human Resources Department Abdulla Al Falasi thanked Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed for the support and care he has extended to government employees and their families across government departments.
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