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UAE workers to get mandatory midday break

Sunita Menon/Dubai
Filed on June 16, 2016 | Last updated on June 16, 2016 at 06.18 am
UAE workers to get mandatory midday break
Workers waiting for the bus to return them to the labor camps from the construction sites in IBN Battuta mall as Midday break stars from today in UAE. on 15th Jun 2016

(Photo By: Rahul Gajjar)

Most workers said they were satisfied with the provisions made by their companies to beat the heat at construction sites.

As the clock struck 12.30, Wednesday afternoon, workers in the UAE were seen hurrying to their buses waiting to take them back to their accommodation. "It's break from work for us," said a beaming Mohammed Obaidi from India. He works as a supervisor at a construction site.

The mandatory midday break rule for workers came into effect on June 15. As per the rule, any sort of work under direct sunlight is banned between 12.30 and 3pm. The rule stands good until September 15.

Fine for violators

Violating companies will be fined Dh5,000 per worker if they are found working during break hours. The fines will reach a maximum of Dh50,000 if several workers of a company are found working. In addition, the company will be degraded and in some cases, could the functions could cease.

In exceptional cases where work cannot be stopped, employers must provide workers with salt and lemon in addition to first aid, air-conditioners, sunshades and cold water.

Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said the decree, which enters its 12th consecutive year, is designed to prevent work-related injuries. Works excluded from the ban include mixing asphalt poured concretes if it is impossible to implement or supplement the necessary work in a day; works that control reparation, damage, malfunction or loss; and emergency works that include water supply, sewerage, electricity, gas pipelines or petroleum flow and traffic blocks.

According to Ghobash working hours are divided into two shifts with eight hours of daily work. If labourers work overtime, they must be compensated as per law.

The ruling also requires employers to post a clear schedule informing workers of the daily working hours, plus provide shelter to them during their resting period. Employers are also urged to provide health kits to workers using hazardous tools in addition to following safety instructions and distributing awareness leaflets to promote awareness.

Most workers said they were satisfied with the provisions made by their companies to beat the heat at construction sites. "We have first aid and cold drinking water. Also, if one of us feel a nauseated we are allowed to take rest," said Mir Hassan a Bangladeshi.

Mohammed who is on the morning shift said: "My duty hours are from 6am to 12noon. It helps during the fasting month as working out in the summer heat drains you out."

According to Maher Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspectional Affairs, 18 teams from the ministry will monitor the level of compliance throughout the period. Three teams have been formed in Abu Dhabi, two in Al Ain, four in Dubai, two in Sharjah, two in Ajman, two in Ras Al Khaimah, two in Fujairah and one team in Umm Al Quwain. The teams will make 60,000 visits across the nation to make sure all facilities commit to the law."

Mansoor Ali a Pakistani foreman said: "The system of working in shifts really helps us because it gives ample rest."

His irritated bus driver, Rafid Abdul, however, was annoyed and asked Ali to board the bus fast instead of chatting.

"We are getting late. I need to visit three other construction sites from where I need to pick up workers.," he said. "I have to beat the traffic. What is the point of this break if half the time is spend in the traffic?"

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