By Elizabeth Broomhall
Ministry warns private sector employees should work six-hour days, ‘regardless of race or religion’
Private sector firms are risking large fines this Ramadan by forcing staff to work full eight-hour days without overtime, in breach of Ministry of Labour laws.
In a survey by Arabian Business, staff at retail outlets including Costa Coffee, Borders, Burger King and The Toy Store reported working longer than the six hours allotted by the Ministry, for the same salary.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour said it was illegal for staff in the private sector to work beyond six hours during Ramadan without receiving overtime pay.
“This applies to the whole of the private sector,” the spokesperson said. “There is no relation to religion or nationality. People should only work six hours. Anyone who works more than six hours should be paid overtime.”
It is irrelevant whether staff are fasting or not, he said.
“If workers are being forced to work without being paid overtime they can contact our call centre free on 800 665 to complain.”
Companies found flouting the labour law risk an AED10,000 fine for each worker.
At bookstore Borders, a staff member said he worked nine hours a day without overtime pay, while his Muslim colleagues were allowed to leave after six hours.
“If you’re not a Muslim, you work normal time,” he said.
Al Maya Group, the franchise holder for Borders, said retail staff worked seven-hour shifts, plus a maximum of two hours overtime that was paid at the end of the month.
Staff members at The Toy Store, operated in the UAE by holding company Gulf Greetings, said they worked seven or eight-hour days without extra pay.
One employee said he had broached the subject of reduced hours with his supervisor but had been told; “If you don’t like it, you must leave.”
Gulf Greetings said in a statement staff were allowed to work six-hour days, but those working extra hours were paid overtime or received time off in lieu.
Staff at Costa Coffee outlets, in Burger King and Beirut restaurants all said they were working more than the required six hours a day, without further compensation.
The coffee chain denied the claims, but said non-fasting staff would be working additional hours and would receive overtime pay or time off in compensation.
Staff at retail outlets McDonalds, H&M and Carrefour each reported their working hours had been cut or they had received compensation for working overtime.
The Ministry of Labour will be carrying out spot checks on workplaces during the holy month of Ramadan, and may fine employers found in breach of labour laws.
Between 15 June and 15 July, the ministry carried out 10,099 guidance visits and 23,595 inspections to companies, the spokesperson said.
Ramadan began this year on August 1, with all Muslim adults expected to observe a fasting period during daylight hours.
Non-Muslims are also banned from eating or drinking in public between sunrise and sunset.
Yes, of all the troubles and worries amidst global turmoil, mid east unrest, famines, recessions,violence, natural calamities....the working hours in Ramadan is definitely our top priority. No one should work 8 hours instead of 6 hours...its just not acceptable
Working 8 hours (or overworking) will definitely help combat everything Ahmed, global turmoil, mid east unrest, famines, recessions,violence, natural calamities, all will vanish. You have the right to fire them if they blink but if they are demanding their rights according to the book, there are always more important issues. This is exactly what my former employer said right before he stole my gratuity.
Remarkable, has it always been illegal for non-muslims to work longer hours than their muslim counterparts in Ramadan in Dubai? I always assumed that was not the case, because there were certain religious holidays that I thought non-Muslims would not be entitled to either.
Most employees work more than a standard 8 hours anyway to maximise on commerce. The fact that productivity is down when you're fasting and a large proportion of the population of Dubai is non-Muslim but working a shorter time window must impede the international economic interface considerably. Consumer spending rises and foreign economic volumes deplete.
Also, while Ramadan will stay in the Summer months in the next cycle, what happens when it returns to the top tourism window, that shortened hours for expat non-muslims must surely reflect on commercial service levels?
In all fairness, non-fasting people should be working normal hours during ramadan.
Construction companies are indulging their non fasting staff to work for 8 hours minimum despite the ministry's warning.They never gave or will give the overtime payment for staff except workers.Ministry should act quickly to impose the rule at the grass roots.
Ramadan has never been a big month for tourists even when Ramadan was in winter, given that tourists cant eat in public and many restaurants are closed, most people prefer to visit the UAE before or after Ramadan
Muslims around the world work 8 hours or more during Ramadan on normal wages. Many Muslims might have experienced how the circumstances are during Ramadan outside GCC. Given to work only 6 hrs most of the people go home and sleep. Productivity is affected and there arises the risk of flouting Rules too. I could suggest one possibility that during Ramadan in Summer (in hot temp. countries), for any person fasting and working outside and doing streonuous jobs shall be made to work only for 6 hours. All others in this world who are fasting durig Ramamdan should work as normal. It affects me too though I enjoy the benefit of working 6 hrs in Dubai. However can't debate much to make the working hours normal in GCC as these countries are ruled under Islamic Law. Hence obey the Rules and everybody works 6 hours or more with OT. Changes required shall be creatively debated and implemented accordingly. Respect the Law.
Can someone please clarify the definition of 'staff'? Does this six hour maximum apply to supervisory and management positions?
Very Popolar news paper in Bahrain, Gulf Daily and one of thier sister concern Hilal Computers are working normal Hours. I think beeing a Media company they have more responsibity. The news paper which is publishing the news about Ramadan working hours has more responsibility to adhre to the rules of the country.