Private sector firms split over shortened Ramadan hours

Bulk of firms adhere to shorter work days, but 44% of staff see no change to hours
Nearly half of readers said their employers had cut their days to six-hours during Ramadan
By Ed Attwood
Thu 18 Aug 2011 07:21 AM

Private sector firms in the UAE are split in their adherence to laws that restrict the working hours of employees during the holy month of Ramadan, an Arabian Business poll has found.

Nearly half – 49 percent – of readers said their employers had cut their days to six-hours without impacting on their salaries, to fall in line with Ministry of Labour regulations.

But a further 44 percent said their companies were flouting guidelines by asking them to work full days, without overtime pay.

The survey, which polled 541 readers, found just four percent of respondents worked overtime but were paid compensation for the extra hours.

Three percent of readers said their working hours had been cut during Ramadan – but their salaries had also been slashed to reflect the shorter days.

The Ministry of Labour said earlier this month that private sector employees may only work for six hours during the holy month if they are not paid overtime.

“This applies to the whole of the private sector,” a spokesperson told Arabian Business last week. “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.”

Companies found flouting the labour law risk an AED10,000 fine for each worker.

A recent survey of retail stores in the Mall of the Emirates conducted by Arabian Business showed that a number of retailers – including Costa Coffee, Borders and Burger King – had staff who reported working longer than the mandated six hours. 

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.

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Last Updated: Thu 26 Jan 2017 01:27 PM GST

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