By Tom Arnold
Many construction firms in UAE may be forced to pay overtime to keep productivity levels high.
Work on construction sites may continue overnight in a bid to avoid delays to projects during Ramadan.
Many contractors may choose to offer workers overtime pay to avoid falling behind with deadlines as daily working hours in the private sector are cut by two hours during the holy month.
But one boss of a major construction project in Dubai told Arabian Business a reduction in productivity was unavoidable during the period.
Ahmed Bin Khalaf Al Mazroui, vice chairman of the UAE Contractors’ Association, said contractors would either operate a six or eight hour day, with many opting for a working day of between 5am and 1pm.
“Every company has a schedule on working hours agreed before Ramadan so there are no delays,” said Al Mazroui, who runs Abu Dhabi Maintenance and Construction Company (Admac).
“It’s up to the contractors as sometimes they may need workers to work more than the set hours so they are paid compensation if they work longer hours and some labourers like this.
“Companies with large workforces may have different shifts working during the night and the morning so some workers only work during the day and some at night. If they work during the night they can eat and drink. Workers are often given a choice to work during the night or the morning.”
He said contractors obeyed laws preventing them from discriminating between Muslim and non-Muslim labourers, with all workers having reduced hours.
The Ministry of Justice has said workers can be employed for more than the stipulated six hours daily during Ramadan if the extra hours are considered as overtime and they are compensated for it by 25 percent of the basic pay per hour during the day and 50 percent during night.
One manager of a major construction project in Dubai admitted that productivity would be hit during the month but that this was taken into account in contracts agreed between developers and contractors.
He said: “Productivity goes down but we have allowed for this in the work programme and you know this before you sign a contract so it doesn’t affect you.
“We have taken account of the fact that productivity of fasting Muslims during Ramadan slows so this shouldn’t be a problem.”
The Ministry of Labour has warned it will step up the number of inspections it caries out at work places, with any firms found violating the regulations facing financial penalties.
Workers have been told to report their employers to the ministry or labour offices across the emirates if they are forced to work their regular working hours during the month.
Work places must erect signboards or issue notices in all languages spoken by employees indicating the reduced working hours during Ramadan, the ministry said.
Construction sites in residential areas are working throughout the night and keeping everyone awake already and not much being done by Dubai Municipality or the authorities to regulate the noise levels. Ramadan is month of prayer, mediation and tranquility. The last thing one wants is a construction orchestra all over his/her midnight prayers