New UAE weekend: Do employers need to amend employees' contracts?

The recently-announced labour law regarding the issue will come into effect on February 2

By Sherouk Zakaria

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Published: Fri 28 Jan 2022, 11:08 AM

Last updated: Fri 28 Jan 2022, 10:33 PM

Private companies will not need to amend employees' days off in employment contracts issued after February 2 unless old contracts state the weekends, legal experts have said.

Mohammad Al Dahbashi, Managing Partner of ADG Legal, said employment contracts typically state that employees are entitled to one- or two-day weekends without specifying the day.

However, if contracts state the days off, they will need to be amended if there have been changes to the employee's weekends after the new Monday-Friday workweek adopted by the government.

The new labour law, which comes into effect on February 2, gives the private sector the flexibility to determine the day off for employees, who are entitled to at least one day of weekly rest.

Mohamed Gamal Tawfik, a legal advisor at Kaden Boriss Legal Consulting, explained that employers are not obliged to amend contracts in line with the government's new weekends. Still, the law specifies the threshold of working hours and sets a minimum of one day off every week.

He noted that although the law introduces several work models, including part-time, flexible and temporary, it has been clear and specific on the daily and weekly working hours for employees in the private sector.

"The law gives employees the flexibility to take up different types of jobs, while stating that they are entitled to at least one day off every week," said Tawfik.


Article 17 of the new labour law stipulates that employees are to work for a maximum eight hours a day or 48 hours a week. In all cases, regardless of the job model, the total number of working hours should not exceed 144 hours every three weeks.

Working hours are to be determined as per a contractual agreement between employers and employees in other models than the full-time. Under the law, employers are prohibited from making employees work for more hours than those stated and agreed upon in the contract.

Article 18 further divides the working hours by prohibiting employees from working over five consecutive hours without at least a one-hour break.

Tawfik said, "The law provides flexibility but sets clear regulations that safeguard the rights of employees."


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