Ramadan in UAE: Why many employees don't take leave during holy month

Some companies encourage workers to take time off during this period due to reduced business activity


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 29 Mar 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 29 Mar 2023, 2:18 PM

Very few employees in the UAE choose to take leave during the holy month of Ramadan owing to shorter work hours.

According to HR and recruitment specialists, employees feel less stressed during the holy month because of reduced work hours and save leave to celebrate mega events such as Christmas and Eid with their loved ones.

“Fewer employees apply for leaves during Ramadan as it’s less working hours; hence, employees feel it’s less stressful at work. They keep their leaves for summer and Christmas holidays,” said Mohamed Bahaaeldeen, head of outsourcing and Saudi Arabia at Adecco Middle East.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) reduced work timings by two hours during the holy month for private-sector employees daily. Work timings for the public sector were reduced as well to support workers.

Nicki Wilson
Nicki Wilson

Nicki Wilson, managing director of Genie Recruitment, said with reduced work hours, some might think it is a waste to use annual leave during this time as fewer hours are worked, anyway.

“Also, people who are fasting might not want to take their vacation during this time. Ramadan is often a time for dedication, and some might find it a strain on their body to fast whilst travelling. Additionally, many countries would have longer days, so it’s always worth checking the sunlight hours of the country you will be travelling to, which could extend the fasting period,” she said.

What do firms encourage?

Wilson added that companies that typically have reduced productivity during Ramadan encourage staff to utilise this time by taking a vacation.

Mohamed Bahaaeldeen
Mohamed Bahaaeldeen

“Some businesses encourage taking annual leave during Ramadan as they experience a slowdown in work activity. They may also factor in that employees work fewer hours due to Ramadan hours, so encourage annual leave to be taken off of this basis too. For example, within the hospitality sector, there would be a strong encouragement for staff to take annual leave as a large proportion of the population would be fasting during peak times of trade.”

Mohamed Bahaaeldeen of Adecco Middle East said organisations encourage employees to plan and take their leaves throughout the year, so the workforce can be managed properly.

“Luckily, this year, school vacations are in Ramadan for two weeks, and I could see employees taking leaves during this time to spend them with their families,” said Bahaaeldeen.


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