New UAE weekend: Only 23% private sector firms will adopt 4.5-day workweek

Over 190 firms took part in Mercer Middle East’s New UAE Work Weekend Survey


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Published: Thu 30 Dec 2021, 2:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Dec 2021, 2:09 PM

Most private sector firms in the UAE are embracing the switch to a Saturday-Sunday weekend as the UAE transitions into a shorter workweek from the new year, a survey has shown. However, very few companies will adopt the 4.5-day week that will be implemented in government departments across the country from January 1, 2022.

Over 190 firms took part in Mercer Middle East’s New UAE Work Weekend Survey.

Majority of the firms (57 per cent) would prefer to switch to the new Saturday-Sunday weekend. However, only 23 per cent respondents said they were likely to implement the half-day work policy on Fridays.

A majority of the firms that are making the switch to a Saturday-Sunday weekend will adopt a hybrid work model, with a mix of office and field workers.

For the firms that will offer an additional half-day off on Fridays, there are many considerations with regards to working hours. Two out of three employers stated that working hours will not be increased, nor will remuneration be affected.


Ted Raffoul, Mercer’s Career and Workforce Products business leader, MENA, said: “Employers in the UAE must continue to offer staff flexibility, particularly for parents given that schools will operate a half-day on Friday, and to accommodate religious needs. Offering staff the choice to work from home, or to work flexible days and or hours, will support talent attraction and retention.

“Overall, the shift to the new working weekend in the UAE has strong support from the private sector, but the companies that will thrive as employers of choice will be those that continue to stay attuned to the needs of their diverse workforces.”

Survey findings show that 84 per cent of firms believe that the new weekend will have a positive impact on transacting internationally, bringing benefit to business outside of the region.

However, 37 per cent are unsure of the impact of the new weekend on business activities within the Middle East.

Private firms are not legally obliged to make the shift, but the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has urged them to readjust employee weekly days off to align with the new weekend.

Multiple companies, including the Galadari Brothers Group, have already announced a switch to the new weekend, with flexible timings announced for Fridays.

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