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Thu 12 Jul 2012 12:35 PM

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UAE firms must cut Ramadan working hours - gov't

Ministry of Labour says working hours must be reduced by two hours for everyone

UAE firms must cut Ramadan working hours - gov't
Sharia, Sharia compliance, sukuk, Islamic finance

UAE working hours during Ramadan will be cut by two hours for employees across both public and private sectors, regardless of whether they are Muslim or not, the Ministry of Labour announced.

A ministry statement said that employers would be required to reduce working hours to 36 per week during the Islamic holy month, which is expected to begin on July 21.

Those caught breaching the rules face fines, the ministry said.

Employees will be permitted to work overtime, but for a maximum of two hours per day, and will be entitled to payment of 25 percent of their basic salary in the daytime, and 50 percent at nighttime.

In 2011, the Ministry of Labour said it received 46 complaints from employees in Dubai claiming their companies were flouting laws that restrict working hours in Ramadan

A poll by Arabian Business at the time found private sector firms were split in their adherence to laws that cut working days to six-hours during the holy month.

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 this.

D. McLellan 7 years ago

As an employer in the UAE, I still don't understand why non Muslim employees work shorter hours during Ramadan. I can appreciate if you are fasting it's not reasonable to expect your Muslim employees to work normal hours but I don't see why businesses should have to pay non Muslim employees overtime to work normal working hours, especially in the current economic climate!

Tayoto 7 years ago


I am myself not a Muslim but I can give you same arguments why it is a good idea to respect Ramadan hours for all employees:

- Muslim employees would loose out on information, cannot participate in meetings "after hours" and are not full members of the teams if comprised of mixed religious employees
- Muslim employees are then at a disadvantage and there is an incentive to hire Non-mulsims as you don't have to give them Ramadan hours (if that would be the case), so that would actually discriminate Muslims in a Muslim country, a bit weird don't you think?
- To show respect to the Muslim country you live and work in, respect the rules of the country
- In Europe there are some religious days off (like Easter Monday, Christmas) are you supposed to work as a Muslim in Europe just because you are not Christian - NO, everyone is off on these days, same applies to Ramadan

Hope that helps....

Telcoguy 7 years ago

@Tayoto, I think many of the discussions you see here reflect a gap between business built around low-skill employees (where cheap and available are the keywords) and business requiring more skilled employees (where retention and scarcity are the biggest worries) and also between businesses focused on serving the local market and those using Dubai as a landing pad. So leaving aside legal requirements, the way I see things is:

-If your business requires basically low-skills then McLellan's reasoning is perfectly fine from a business perspective, more hands, more time equal more productivity always. If you need a higher level of interaction or more complex jobs then you are right, it is pointless to have meetings with people who are hungry and grumpy.

-Again, if you are targeting the local market then you are essentially right on your points, however if you are dealing with clients in non-muslim countries, again McLellan is at least partially right on his analysis.

judith 7 years ago

@D.McLellan - perhaps you failed to consider the fact that when one works with ALL muslim staff, cannot or would not eat, drink or act as "normal" in front of them. So, in fact, there is a forced fast which does not bring any religious gratification in the end. Have worked for 16 years in the ME and do not mind respecting the culture, will also put in the extra hours as needed since often one needs to get the job done, but on the other hand, in all fairness, laws should be laws for all working in this country and should be respected as such by employers.

Laws are there also for those who cannot or will not raise their voices and perhaps have no computers to share opinions like us.

CDD 7 years ago

1. With reference to the report stating 541 readers interviewed, am sure these readers are based in the Free zone areas. Please be fair in your reporting and have your findings from different business areas in Dubai. Am sure the results will be far different from what is shown, the workers in Bur Dubai, Deira etc work full day during Ramadan without any compensation. and Employers go scot free. A true report will help the government to be more vigilant and strict.
2. With reference to some comments - they say - When in Rome do as Romans do. Same applies here. No Businessman dare complains when non-christian expats in America & Britain enjoy Christmas and Thanks giving day, why should one complain in this region?

Jason 7 years ago

same thing comes out every year and many companies still do not follow this law.
These are big companies as well, but nothing happens to them.
Looks good on paper, but in practice this is not followed by many.

John 7 years ago

@D McLellon - fully agree - Non-muslims should pick up the slack during Ramadan and allow their muslim collegues to observe their fast, not exploit the relgion because simply they are lazy and son't want to work. The staff that are muslims can pick up the slack during non-muslim holiday timeframes.

john 7 years ago

To force non-muslims not to eat during Ramadan is against human rights. Are muslims forced in the west to eat turkey on Christmas? They are free to practice they way they want. No force on them whatsoever!
Besides, is respect to muslims is by forcing non-muslims not to eat in public?

Bugle 7 years ago

You can eat inside , not outside ; and the rule is for everyone who is not fasting including Muslims.

Baffydedo 7 years ago

Because to anything else is descimination - and surely here in the UAE as in the rest of the world descrmination is not allowed!!
If the labour rules state that working hours must be shorter - then that applies to everyone. You cannot expect the non-muslim employees to continue working.
As has already been said above - EG. Christmas falls over a weekend making a long weekend - should the Muslims work for nothing? No they take the times as everybody else in the country they are working.You cannot have a society / workplace where there are rules for one set of people and different rules for others - no matter how much you may wish it.