By Andy Sambidge
Labour Minister says construction firms will be fined AED15,000 for each violation this year
The mandatory midday break for UAE labourers who work in the sun during summer months will begin on June 15, the Ministry of Labour has announced.
Companies will have to give a two-and-a-half hour break from 12.30pm to 3pm to labourers who work in open areas such as construction sites, according to the decision issued by the Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash.
The three-month midday break rule will be enforced until September 15, according to a statement run by news agency WAM.
Mubarak Saeed Al-Dhaheri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry, said: "The midday work ban has entered its tenth year now, confirming the Ministry's commitment towards human and labour rights by ensuring them work in a suitable and safe environment.
"This is considered one of the most prominent and important initiatives which handles preventive measures to protect workers from the risks of working under direct sunlight with extreme high temperatures," he said.
The Labour Ministry urged business owners to provide shaded areas for the workers during their break period and to completely cease work.
It warned that violators will be fined AED15,000, if found forcing labourers to work under direct sunlight, adding that if a large number of workers are affected, the company might face temporary suspension from operations.
Maher Al Obed, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Inspection Department, said 18 teams of inspectors have been formed to ensure all companies are abiding by the rules.
Around 80,000 visits are planned to worksites during the midday break period, he added.
Last week, the Ministry of Labour said more than 1,000 cases of labour abuses in the UAE were referred to prosecutors last year.
The 1,015 cases involved allegations of inadequate accommodation for foreign workers and forcing labourers to work during peak summer hours, when temperatures can soar to 50 degrees Celsius.
The Ministry of Labour conducted 138,801 inspections during 2013, including 11,807 to assess accommodation standards and 80,571 to ensure workers were not outdoors during the banned period.