Working long hours kills: How UAE labour laws protect workers

Photo: Alamy
Photo: Alamy

Dubai - UAE laws specify the maximum number of hours an employee can be made to work.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Wed 19 May 2021, 11:05 AM

Last updated: Wed 19 May 2021, 11:11 AM

Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, the World Health Organisation said on Monday. With worker welfare being the top priority in the UAE, labour laws have put a cap on the maximum number of hours an employee can be made to work.

Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard, said Maria Neira, the director of the WHO's Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health.

In the UAE, the maximum number of working hours per week is 48 hours — or eight hours a day, according to Ashish Mehta, founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates.

“However, working hours for the employees of commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, watchmen and similar operations may be increased to nine hours per day as determined by the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation. Likewise, working hours per day, in respect of hazardous work or work detrimental to health, may be decreased by decision of the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation,” said Mehta.

Compensation for working more than 48 hours a week

The lawyer said that an employer in the UAE may have to pay overtime remuneration to its employees if they are made to work beyond the regular working hours. The overtime payment in such situations is the “remuneration of the employee on pro rata basis for additional hours of work” along with an additional 25 per cent.

“Further, an employer may have to pay 50 per cent of additional remuneration if the employee is made to work overtime between 9pm and 4am,” he added.

Overtime employment should not be more than two hours beyond regular working hours, “except if there are emergency requirements”.

“Further, an employer may not compel an employee to work for more than two consecutive days of his weekly holidays as mentioned in Article 71 of the Employment Law.”


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However, the aforementioned overtime remuneration may not be applicable for the employees who are employed in senior designations and as supervisors in an entity or employees employed in the sea.

Working on weekly days off

Friday is the designated weekly holiday in the UAE. If an employee is made to work on a Friday, he shall be granted one day off for rest or be paid the basic pay for normal working hours plus 50 per cent extra.

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