While the mandatory law offers vital respite from the intense summer sunshine, it can get businesses fined to maximum Dh50,000. The UAE’s mandatory midday break for outdoor workers begins from today and it will continue till September 15. Introduced in 2004 by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the rule prevents any work under direct sunlight between 12.30 pm and 3 pm for three months. Of course, the midday break offers a big relief and health protection for labourers working in various fields.
Midday Break Timings
Midday break starts from 12.30pm until 3pm each day. It will remain in place until September 15 for all work carried out in open places. According to the midday break rule, the total working hours are divided into two shifts, morning and evening. The workers’ shifts are limited to eight hours daily. And anyone who exceeds those hours is paid overtime. Companies and workers have welcomed the start of the midday work ban and are looking forward to a safe, if still very hot, summer.
Midday Break Rules for Employers
According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, employers are prohibited from making staff work outdoors during the midday break period. They must also provide field workers with shaded areas during their rest. In exceptional cases where uninterrupted work is required even during the designated break, employers must provide cold drinking water and other items such as salts and lemon and provide first aid kits. According to the Ministry of Labour, projects such as laying asphalt and pouring concrete are categorized as necessary on safety grounds whether or not labourers are working under the sun. Also the midday break rule exempts labourers working on licensed Government projects that could affect traffic, electrical and water supplies or telecommunications. But even though some workers do not get the full midday break, employers are still required to provide air-conditioners, sunshades, first aid and cold water for workers. Perhaps, companies have to make available environments that avoid heat exhaustion.
Fines on Violating Midday Break Rules
Contractors and companies caught violating the ban are fined thousands of dollars and face temporary suspension. Violators will be fined Dh5,000 per person, if labourers are found working during the break hours, reaching up to Dh50,000 if several workers were found in violation of the decree. Labor Ministry inspectors make unannounced visits to sites to ensure the ban is enforced.
But the fact remains that heat in and across the emirate is turning out to be intolerable. Almost every day the temperature is above 40C and there have been some days when the heat climbs up to even 55C. Even though reports about heat strokes have been lesser than the last summer, it would still be extremely difficult for anybody to work under such searing conditions.