New UAE weekend: Are private sector firms legally required to make the shift?

Many private entities have already announced that they will be shifting to a Saturday-Sunday weekend


Ashish Mehta

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Photo: File
Photo: File

Published: Sun 26 Dec 2021, 10:48 AM

Last updated: Mon 27 Dec 2021, 12:35 AM

Question: My question is about the UAE’s adoption of the new weekend. All newspaper reports suggest that government workers will transition to the two-and-a-half-day weekend. What does this mean for private-sector workers like me? Do we get the same weekend off as well? What does the law say here — are firms supposed to give us the same days off as the government sector?

Answer: It is noted that you are employed in the private sector in the UAE, and hence it is presumed that your employment is subject to the provisions of federal laws and regulations of the UAE on employment relations – i.e., the Federal Law No 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Employment Relations, as amended from time to time (the Employment Law) and the subsequent Ministerial Resolutions adopted in pursuance thereof.

You have correctly asserted that Government employees in the UAE will be transitioning to a two-and-a-half-day weekend from next year.

As to your first query, no specific announcements have been made yet, for private sector employees insofar as any changes in their workweek/ weekly off days are concerned. The revised workweek has been announced for the UAE’s Government sector and has not been made mandatory for the private sector in the UAE.

As to your second query, many private entities in the UAE have already announced that they will be shifting to a Saturday-Sunday weekend in line with the Government sector, while some others have announced that they would continue with the existing workweek. It would therefore be prudent for you to check with your employer, if any changes are being introduced to its workweek and/or weekly off-day/s.


As to your third query, Article 70 of the Employment Law (which is currently in force) prescribes Friday to be the normal weekly holiday. The said Article 70 reads as follows.

"Friday is the normal weekly holiday for all employees except for those on daily wage bases."

Notably, by February 2022, the Employment Law shall be abrogated and replaced entirely by the new Federal Decree Law No (33) of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the New Employment Law), wherein Article 21 reads as follows:

“A Worker shall be granted at least 1 (one) paid weekly rest day as specified by the Employment Contract or the internal work regulations. The weekly rest day stipulated herein may be increased by decision of the Cabinet.”

Additionally, by Article 7 clause 2 of the Federal Decree-Law No (47) of 2021 On the Standard General Rules of Work in the United Arab Emirates (which shall also apply to the private sector in the UAE) employees shall have 1 rest day per week. The relevant provisions are translated as follows.

“Article (7) -

Hours of Work

2. The Employee shall have at least 1 (one) rest day a week. Such number may be increased by Law.”

The above provisions do mention that the number of weekly off-day may be increased by “Law” which is defined as follows:

“The law regulating the human resources in the federal government sector or the labour relations in the private sector in the UAE, and their respective executive regulations and implementing resolutions.”

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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