UAE ends summer midday break, Normal working hours resume
The annual midday break for outdoor workers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which prohibits work in direct sunlight between 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm, has officially ended. Workers will now return to their regular working hours, similar to those before the peak summer season.
The Midday Break Initiative
The midday break is an essential labor welfare measure in the UAE. It was introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) to ensure the well-being and safety of outdoor workers during the sweltering summer months. This initiative aims to protect workers from the adverse effects of extreme heat, including sun exposure, heat exhaustion, and sunstroke.
Working Hours and Compensation
During the midday break period, the MoHRE mandated that daily working hours should not exceed eight hours. If an employee worked more than eight hours a day, the additional time was considered overtime, and the employee was entitled to compensation for the extra hours worked.
Employers were also required to provide a shaded rest area for their workers during the break period. They needed to ensure the availability of cold drinking water, hydrating food, and proper first-aid facilities at the worksite. Additionally, employers were encouraged to provide industrial cooling solutions and umbrellas to further safeguard their workers.
Penalties and Exceptions
Employers found in violation of the midday break rules could incur significant penalties. Individual fines of up to Dh5,000 per worker were imposed for each worker found working during the prohibited hours. In cases where multiple workers were found to be working during the midday break, the maximum fine could reach Dh50,000. These penalties were designed to encourage strict compliance with the midday break regulations and prioritize the safety and well-being of outdoor workers during extreme heat conditions.
Certain job categories were exempted from the midday break but still required employers to provide cold drinking water and hydrating food to their workers. These exemptions aimed to ensure that employees in critical roles received the necessary support to stay safe in the heat.
Inspections and Reporting
In order to ensure adherence to the midday break restrictions, the MoHRE made almost 67,000 inspection visits to establishments between June 15 and August 17. The ministry additionally promoted community involvement by pushing locals and employees to report any infractions they saw.
Despite the challenging conditions, the midday break initiative has yielded successful results. The MoHRE reported that only 59 violations involving 130 workers were recorded during this year's campaign. This indicates a growing awareness among employers about the importance of protecting their workers from the dangers of extreme heat.
The midday break remains a crucial annual initiative in the UAE, demonstrating the government's commitment to ensuring the welfare and safety of all workers, especially during the hot summer months.