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Three-month midday work break begins in UAE today

by Neha Bhatia on Jun 14, 2018

The UAE's well-received midday work break begins today for a period of three months [representational image].
The UAE's well-received midday work break begins today for a period of three months [representational image].

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The UAE’s annual midday work break, aimed at safeguarding the health and safety of outdoor workers, commences today, 15 June. 

As part of the programme, working under direct sunlight is prevented between 12.30pm and 3pm.

Spanning for a duration of three months, the programme is mandated by the UAE's Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). 

Work is to be split into two shifts – morning and evening – totalling eight hours during the midday break programme, which ends on 15 September, 2018. 

READ: Compliance rate of UAE's midday work ban revealed

Compensation must be provided to staff working overtime, Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, the UAE's Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said.

Some exceptional cases are given permits to operate during the midday break hours. Examples of this include work on poured concrete, especially if it cannot be completed in a single day. 

Exemptions are also made for work that can cause danger, damage, malfunction, or loss if it is delayed.

Companies that are found violating the rule will be fined $1,400 (AED5,000) for each person working during break hours.

A fine of up to $13,600 (AED50,000) could be levied if the case involves a large number of labourers. Moreover, violators also face the risk of being downgraded or temporarily suspended from operating. 

Employers must provide a detailed schedule that informs workers of their daily working hours. Staff must also be provided a sheltered area to rest during the midday break when working prevented.

In cases where exceptions have been made and workers are proceeding without the break, employers must provide cold water and other items recommended by UAE health authorities, such as salt and lemon, plus access to first-aid, air-conditioners, and sunshades, the UAE's state news agency reported earlier this month.

The midday work break is well-received by the UAE's construction industry.

In August 2017, the MOHRE announced had recorded 99.73% compliance with its midday break requirements.

Eighteen teams of inspectors carried out 53,712 visits between June 2017, when the break commenced, and August 2017.

Up to 9,324 advisory visits were made during the same period, WAM reported.