Ramadan 2023 in UAE: Reduced office hours, overtime pay; what you need to know

The regular maximum working hours in the country are eight hours a day, or 48 per week, which are typically cut shorter during the holy month


Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 12 Mar 2023, 11:26 AM

Last updated: Mon 24 Apr 2023, 9:06 AM

Question: With the holy month of Ramadan around the corner, can you please tell us about office rules, working hours, etc? Our company needs staff in the office around the clock. Am I allowed to have fasting employees work during the evening time?

Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are an employer operating from the mainland of UAE. Further, it is assumed that your entity has three shifts in a day where each consists of eight hours of work. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'Employment Law') and those of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 on the Implementation of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 regarding the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022') are applicable.

In the UAE, the regular maximum working hours per day is eight hours a day or 48 per week. This is in accordance with Article 17(1) of the Employment Law.

During the month of Ramadan, the working hours are reduced by two hours per day. This is in accordance with Article 15(2) of Cabinet Resolution No.1 of 2022, which states: “Subject to the provisions of Article 17 of the Employment Law the regular working hours shall be reduced by two hours during the holy month of Ramadan."

Therefore, based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you as an employer may reduce the regular timings for each shift from eight hours to six. Any additional hours of work may be considered overtime. This is in accordance with Article 19(2) of the Employment Law, which states: "If the work circumstances require that the employee be employed for hours exceeding the ordinary working hours, such extended time shall be deemed overtime for which the employee shall be paid his basic salary for his normal hours of work plus a supplement of at least 25 per cent of that salary.”


Further, few categories of employment sectors or employees may be exempted from payment for overtime. These include managers or supervisors in an entity or sectors which are involved in technical work in shift basis. This is in accordance with Article 15(4) (b) and (d) of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022, which states: "The following categories shall be exempted from the provisions related to the maximum working hours.

b. The persons occupying supervisory position if such positions vest in them the powers of the employers.

d. Those engaged in work which is required by reasons of technical nature to be carried on continuously by a succession shift, subject to the condition that the average working hours do not exceed 56 hours per week.”

As a good gesture, you may consider employing your Muslim employees during other shifts and not during the evening ones to enable them to end their fast and offer prayers.

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: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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