Today I learnt the definition of what ‘work period’ means in relation to the obligation for an employer to cover an employee with medical insurance in Dubai within the UAE, and when it is acceptable by law to cancel an employee’s medical insurance.
As it is popularly known, part of the obligations of an employer in the U.A.E is to cover their employees with medical insurance during the length of their employment, as defined in ‘Article 10’ of the ‘Dubai Health Insurance Law No. 11 of 2013’.
The common belief is that the employee is to be covered while under the company’s sponsorship through the employment residency visa and to be covered up and until the point of visa cancellation. However, this is not the case as it comes down to an interpretation of the term ‘work period’ which is stated in clause 3 of article 10.
In this clause it is the employer’s obligation to ‘Verify that the health insurance of the employees thereof is valid for the length of their work period at the employer.’ This term ‘work period’ itself is not defined in the rest of the Dubai Health Insurance law itself, however, I found in practice that the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) provide their own definition of work period as from the first working day to the last working day (including gardening leave if applicable) of an employee working for the employer, regardless if the employee is under the company visa or not.
As a side note to this, if an employee is working for a company and is not covered on medical insurance than the employer is obligated to cover the cost of any medical emergencies of the employee until a medical insurance coverage is in place, as per Clause 4 of Article 10 of the ‘Dubai Health Insurance Law No. 11 of 2013’. I assume this is written with the intention of encouraging employers to have their employees incorporated at the earliest possible time to medical insurance as the potential liable costs involved of not having them incorporated.
However, this point can bring us to a rather grey area as it tends to be quite a common practice. Knowing it is against the law for employers to start their employees before certain point in the visa sponsorship stages has been completed, therefore employees being unable to be included officially on any medical insurance. As in the case of not being under the company sponsorship would mean that the company is not responsible for the medical insurance, however, they would have a bigger problem of facing the penalties associated with employing someone that is not yet undertaken their employment visa process, and this would be a blog or article in itself.
At deconstructing HR, we provide advice on UAE labour law matters and would be happy to help any companies seeking advice.