DUBAI: The UAE’s mandatory midday break for all outdoor workers will start on June 15, the 19th consecutive year the ban has been enforced to protect employees from the intense summer heat.
Working in open spaces and under direct sunlight is not allowed from 12:30 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. until Sept 15 this year, with daily working hours in both morning and evening shifts restricted to eight hours.
Any employee made to work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period will be considered to have worked overtime and must be compensated for it.
Companies are also required to provide shaded areas where workers can rest during the midday break.
Employers found flouting the regulations will be fined approximately $1,360 for each worker they require to work during required midday break, with a maximum of $13,614 penalty in case multiple workers are involved.
The implementation of the midday break is in line with Ministerial Resolution No. (44) of 2022 on Occupational Health and Safety and Labor Accommodation, which aims to provide adequate working environments that protect workers from occupational hazards and prevents work-related injuries or illnesses, a report from state news agency WAM said.
“We are confident that employers across the country will comply with the provisions of the ban. Over the past years, we have seen impressive compliance rates, which confirms the level of awareness in the market about the importance of this decision and its effective role in protecting workers from the hazards of direct exposure to sunlight or working in open spaces around naloon,” according to Mohsen Al-Nassi, assistant undersecretary for inspection affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.
There are however exemptions to the midday break, particularly jobs that “require work to continue uninterrupted and they are exempted from implementing the midday work ban for technical reasons,” WAM reported.
These include laying asphalt or pouring concrete – when it is impractical to postpone these tasks – as well as works needed to contain hazards or repair damage that affects the community, such as interruptions to water supply or electricity, cutting off traffic, and other major issues.
“The exemptions also include works that require a permit from a relevant government authority to be implemented, given their impact on the flow of traffic and services. These tasks require non-stop work, including cutting or diverting main traffic routes, power lines, and communications,” WAM said.
Employers are also required to provide sufficient cold drinking water for workers exempted from the midday ban, as well as provide hydrating food, such as salts and/or other food items approved for use by the local authorities.