The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) announced a ban on working in open spaces and under direct sunlight from 12:30 to 15:00 every day from 15th June to 15th September 2023.
Implementing the midday break is in line with Ministerial Resolution No. (44) of 2022 on Occupational Health and Safety and Labour Accommodation, which aims to provide an adequate work environment that protects workers from occupational hazards and prevents work-related injuries or illnesses.
Daily working hours, in the morning and evening shifts, shall not exceed eight hours during the months of the ban. If an employee is made to work more than eight hours in a 24-hour period, the additional hours will be considered overtime and the employee would be entitled to additional pay, based on the Regulation of Employment Relationship Law. Employers are required to provide a shaded area where workers can rest during the midday break.
Mohsen Al Nassi, Assistant Under-Secretary for Inspection Affairs at MoHRE, said, “The health and safety of workers is the cornerstone of labour market legislation, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation is committed to creating the necessary conditions to ensure a safe work environment for them.
“The midday work break, which is being implemented for the 19th year in a row, is in line with the highest professional and humane standards designed to protect workers from potential risk of injury resulting from high temperatures during the summer, especially at noon.”
“The decision to ban work at midday is a notable milestone for the labour market and an integral part of work environment regulations in the UAE and of our community culture, where the Ministry’s partners and other individuals launch a range of initiatives during the summer months to provide supplies that protect workers from exposure, heat exhaustion, and sunstroke,” he added.
“We are confident that employers across the country will comply with the provisions of the ban. Over the past years, we have seen impressive compliance rates, which confirms the level of awareness in the market about the importance of this decision and its effective role in protecting workers from the hazards of direct exposure to sunlight or working in open spaces around noon.”
The decision to implement the midday work break considers the need to maintain continuity in certain jobs that affect the community, as a result some jobs require work to continue uninterrupted and they are exempted from implementing the midday work ban for technical reasons. These include laying asphalt or pouring concrete, in the event where it is unfeasible to postpone these tasks until after the break.
Also on the list are the works needed to contain hazards or repair damages that affect the community, such as interruptions to water supply or electricity, cutting off traffic, and other major issues. The exemption also includes works that require a permit from a relevant government authority to be implemented, given their impact on the flow of traffic and services. These tasks require non-stop work, including cutting or diverting main traffic routes, power lines, and communications.
In the case of exempted jobs, the employer is required to provide sufficient cold drinking water for workers. Public health and safety requirements should be maintained by providing hydrating food, such as salts and/or other food items approved for use by the local authorities in the UAE. They must also provide first aid at the work site, adequate industrial cooling, umbrellas that protect from direct sunlight, and shaded areas for workers to rest during their downtime.
A fine of AED 5,000 for each worker will be imposed on employers found to be in violation of the provisions and regulation of the ban, with a maximum of AED 50,000 in the case that multiple workers are working in violation of the ban.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation receives reports from community members about violations of the midday work ban through its call centre at 600590000, which answers calls 24/7 and in 20 languages, including three main languages, through an automated call system.