UAE law: Women may not be forced to do night shifts
Some categories of female workers may be requested to work at night.
Question: I work for a hospital group in Dubai as a nurse. Despite several requests to exempt me from the night shift, my superiors continue to put me on duty at night. There are male staff who are happy to take the night shift. Is there any legal protection for female medical nurses who do not want to do the night shift?
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed as a nurse in a reputed hospital group which is situated in the mainland of Dubai. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 Regulating Employment Relations in the UAE (the Employment Law) are applicable.
It should be noted that women in the UAE are not required to work between 10pm and 7am.
This is in accordance with Article 27 of the Employment Law, which states: “Women may not be required to work at night. The term ‘night’ means a period of not less than 11 consecutive hours, including the period from 10pm to 7am.”
However, women employed in medical sectors may have to work during the night shifts. This is in accordance with Article 28 (c) of the Employment Law, which states: “The following cases shall be excepted from the clause prohibiting women to work at night.
“c. Work in medical and other services as may be decided by the Minister of Human Resources & Emiratisation if the working woman does not normally carry out a manual job.”
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, your employer may have the right to call upon you to work during night shifts. However, as a few of your male colleagues are willing to work during the night shifts, you may request your employer in writing that you intend to work during the day. In the said request letter, it is recommended that you include a genuine reason for the exemption from the night shift.
Having said that, it must be noted that it is up to the discretion of your employer to accept your request.
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: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: email@example.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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