Working Hours Regulations UAE: Navigating Labour Laws for Employment Success

Eslam Mobarak
Published 2 weeks ago on 14 May, 2024-146 views
Working Hours Regulations UAE and New Labour Laws for Employees

Working Hours Regulations UAE: Employees wishing to advance their careers in the UAE frequently inquire, “What are the working hours in the UAE?” Read the article below to find the answer to this question and more information on working hours in the UAE. The UAE’s principal employment law source is Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 (UAE Labour Law). This law applies to all full-time employees working in the UAE, except government and municipal employees, domestic servants, and agricultural labourers. This article discusses all aspects of permissible working hours in the UAE, including overtime and other related topics.

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Working Hours Regulations UAE

Let’s examine the UAE Labour Law concerning working hours, relaxation intervals, and other relevant issues. First and foremost, it should be emphasised that UAE Labour Law rules do not apply to personnel in managerial or supervisory roles.

  • According to Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law, the maximum working hours per day are 8 hours or 48 hours per week, but employees in the hotel industry and some other businesses may work 9 hours.
  • Those who work in hazardous industries or do physically demanding tasks may have their working hours cut.
  • Article 65 specifies that working hours are shortened by two hours during Ramadan.
  • Working hours vary by company, but 9 am to 6 pm in the private sector is the norm.
  • Employees working hours do not include the time they spend commuting from home to work and back.

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Rest Periods, Prayers and Meals in the UAE

UAE Rest Periods Prayers and Meals
UAE Rest Periods Prayers and Meals

This statement states that, besides work, it is vital to provide rest intervals, meals, and prayer time to ensure employees have enough time to recover. The following are the rest period rules according to UAE labour law:

  • Workers should only work five hours after taking breaks for relaxation, food, or prayer, as working longer can lead to health problems.
  • This should take at least an hour in total. These periods should be excluded from working hours.
  • The Ministry of Labour regulates rest periods, meals, and prayers for jobs requiring continuous work hours without interruption.

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Overtime in UAE According to Articles 67 & 68

The UAE Labour Law establishes the rules for overtime for employees in a business. Overtime refers to employees working beyond their regular working hours. Government employees are not subject to the Federal Decree Law. The overtime rules for organisations are as follows:

  • If an employee is obliged to work beyond regular hours, his salary equals the regular hourly wage + 25% of the stipulated rate. Article 69 specifies that overtime working hours must not exceed two hours.
  • Employees who work overtime between 9 pm and 4 am are entitled to their regular hourly compensation plus 50% of the stipulated rate. This restriction does not apply to employees who work in shifts.

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Rest Day in UAE According to Article 70

It is vital to give a rest day for all employees as follows way:

  • The UAE had shifted its Friday-Saturday weekend to Saturday-Sunday weekend. This reform was implemented on January 1, 2022.
  • Working hours for public sector personnel now begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue until 3:30 p.m. on Friday.
  • The three-day weekend for government employees was a big success, increasing overall productivity by 88% across all government organisations. Government personnel must work Monday through Thursday, followed by a three-day break from Friday to Sunday.

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Public Holidays in the UAE

Public Holidays in the UAE
Public Holidays in the UAE

The UAE Labour Law establishes precise requirements for working on public holidays in the UAE:

  • According to Article 74 of the UAE Labour Law, employees are entitled to total compensation for official leave on public holidays.
  • According to Article 81, employees who are required to work on public holidays would receive:
    • A substitute leave and a 50% payment of their daily earnings.
    • Or a payment equal to 150% of their daily wage.

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Annual Leave Income Calculation in UAE

Under Article 75 of the UAE Labour Law, employees who have been with the organisation for more than a year are entitled to 30 days of annual leave every calendar year. Employees who have worked more than six months but less than a year are eligible for two leaves per month. Under the following conditions, the employer can ask employees to work during their yearly leave:

  • Annual leave should be carried forward into the following year.
  • Employees should be compensated for working throughout their annual leave.
  • According to Article 78 of the UAE Labour Law, the payment for working on yearly leave is calculated as the employee’s basic wage plus leave allowance for the days worked.

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Merciful Leave in UAE

No provisions in UAE labour law allow employees to take compassionate leave in the event of a family member’s death. For employees in the private sector, such leave is entirely at their employer’s discretion. Employers can include compassionate leave as part of their annual leave.

Employees in the government sector are not covered under UAE labour law. They have more rights than private-sector employees. For example, in the UAE, public sector employees are entitled to paid bereavement leave in the event of the loss of a spouse or relative.

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UAE Wage & Hour Law During Ramadan

UAE Wage Hour Law During Ramadan
UAE Wage Hour Law During Ramadan

The UAE Labor Law (Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021), along with UAE Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 (the UAE Labor Law), applies to all companies and employees in the UAE’s private sector, except those employed by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

The UAE Labor Law requires that work hours not exceed eight hours per day or 48 hours per week over a six-day workweek. Work hours, however, can be raised to a maximum of 10 hours each day, with the extra two hours counted as overtime. Overtime cannot exceed two hours per day unless the labour is required to avert profound loss or accident or to remove or lessen its consequences.

During the holy month of Ramadan, employees’ work hours are reduced by two hours daily. The reduced work hours apply to all private sector employees, excluding the DIFC and ADGM, regardless of whether Muslim or fasting.

As a result, during Ramadan, an employee in the UAE can work a maximum of six hours per day or 36 hours per week (based on a six-day working week) or 30 hours per week (based on a five-day working week). This indicates that overtime charges should be applied after the seventh hour (assuming a one-hour lunch break), as daily work hours are decreased from eight to six hours.

According to the UAE Labor Law, any employee who works more than ordinary hours or works fewer hours during Ramadan is entitled to extra compensation. The amount of overtime pay owed will vary depending on when the overtime is worked. Overtime and other work time provisions do not apply to the following employment categories:

  • Board chairmen and members.
  • Employees in supervisory positions represent the employer.
  • Because of the nature of their employment, naval vessel crews and personnel at sea have unique working conditions.
  • Technical personnel must perform consecutive shifts so their average work hours do not exceed 56 hours per week.
  • Employees undertaking preliminary or supplemental work must work outside regular working hours.

The DIFC and ADGM have employment regulations; therefore, different rules apply in these free zones. In the DIFC, reduced work hours during Ramadan are exclusively available to Muslim employees; in the ADGM, only Muslim employees who fast are eligible. Fasting employees can still opt to work more than six hours per day.

Private-sector employees in the UAE will also cut their work hours by two hours during Ramadan 2023. The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) has declared that public-sector employees will have Ramadan work hours of 09:00 to 14:30 Monday through Thursday and 09:00 to 12:00 on Fridays.

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The Consequences of Noncompliance

The UAE Labor Law protects employees from discrimination based on particular traits, such as religion. While no specific punishments are assigned to discrimination, an employer may face fines ranging from UAE dirham (AED) 5,000 to AED 1,000,000 for violating UAE Labor Law.

The penalties levied on businesses can also be doubled by the number of employees affected by the infraction. Thus, if employees believe they have been discriminated against, they can submit a complaint with the MOHRE—or the relevant free zone body, depending on where the employing company is headquartered.

Similarly, anti-discrimination measures under the DIFC Employment Law No. 2 of 2019 and the ADGM Employment Regulations 2019 prohibit discrimination against employees based on specific protected characteristics, such as religion. If an employer asks Muslim employees to work more than the shortened Ramadan working hours, this could be regarded as indirect discrimination and may result in lawsuits before the DIFC or ADGM courts, as appropriate.

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Best Rules for Employers & Employees in UAE

Working hours in the UAE are subject to several changes. While the obligations of the UAE Labour Law are clear, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure compliance at all times. Setting up appropriate procedures is critical for ensuring things operate smoothly and employees feel heard and valued.

You should keep track of your working hours and paid time off. We recommend adopting comprehensive payroll software such as Bayzat to ensure your payroll runs correctly. This system will keep track of all individual hours, calculate accurate pay during overtime, and allow employees to take time off as needed.

The best thing about a comprehensive software system is that it can automatically update itself with the latest advances. As a result, you can achieve total compliance without constantly reviewing the complexity of labour law.

A sound payroll system can also help you achieve a healthy work-life balance. Employee well-being requires adequate rest between workdays and weeks. According to studies, satisfied employees are more productive. Combining payroll with employee benefits is an excellent concept.

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Legal Framework & Emiratisation

Legal Framework and Emiratisation
Legal Framework and Emiratisation

The UAE government actively supports Emiratisation, a strategy that encourages recruiting and training Emirati nationals in the workforce. This technique considers working hours:

  • Shorter workweeks, particularly in the public sector, are intended to create a more appealing work environment for Emirati talent. This shortened workweek improves work-life balance, allowing Emiratis to pursue more education and entrepreneurial endeavours or devote more time to family responsibilities.
  • The government also promotes flexible work options for Emirati employees. These options allow changes to meet individual needs and may enable part-time or remote work choices. Such flexibility can be incredibly enticing to Emirati women juggling family duties.
  • Some industries require 24/7 operations, necessitating shift work. This can deter some Emirati job seekers who may prioritise traditional working hours. Businesses aiming to attract Emirati talent may need to offer incentives or explore alternative scheduling options to make shift work more appealing.
  • Ensure that Emirati workers possess the necessary skills to fill specific roles. Companies can bridge this gap by investing in training and development programs, equipping Emirati employees to thrive in various industries and working hours.

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What is the new labour law in the UAE in 2024?

According to the new provisions, all employment contracts issued after 1 January 2024 must be fixed-term. In addition, this new law contains the following regarding contracts: All contracts must have a precise end date.

What is the law for working hours in UAE?

The following are critical provisions regarding working hours in the private sector: Article 17 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, also known as the ‘UAE Labour Law,’ specifies that regular working hours for the private sector are 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week.

What is Article 29 of the UAE Labour law?

According to Article 29 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) of 2021, every worker who has completed one year of service is entitled to a fully paid 30-day yearly leave. However, individuals who have completed six months are eligible for two days every month.

Do 8 hours of work include lunch in UAE?

Workers should not work five hours without taking breaks for relaxation, food, or prayer, as this can lead to health problems. These breaks should last an hour and not be included as working hours.

Working Hours Regulations UAE, as outlined in the UAE Labour Law 2024, provide a comprehensive framework for work hours, including maximum overtime and regular working hours of an employee. The law also addresses specifics such as Friday working hours for the private sector and whether lunch breaks are included in working hours. Understanding these regulations is crucial for employers and employees to ensure a harmonious and lawful working environment in the UAE.

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