The mandatory mid-day break for outdoor workers began yesterday [Saturday, June 15, 2013] and will last until September 15.
According to the Ministry of Labour, companies are obliged to give workers who do jobs in open areas such as construction sites a two-and-a-half-hour break between 12.30pm and 3pm.
Maher Al Owaid, Under Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Inspection Affairs, also said that daily work hours must not exceed eight hours in the morning or night shifts, and overtime should be paid to those working additional hours.
Speaking at a press conference, he added that inspections will be conducted and those found violating mid-day break rules as well as those caught employing workers not in their sponsorship will face fines as per the labour laws.
Companies found flouting the midday break rule will face fines of Dh15,000 for the first offence and the employer will have to pay Dh1,500 for each employee who is forced to work and they will not be able to employ new workers or issue new labour cards for a period of three months.
Repeat offenders will face the same fine but will have hiring privileges revoked for longer periods.
Al Owaid, however, said that those working on emergency projects that cannot be stalled for technical reasons will be exempted from the rule. Emergency work such as restoring electric lines, or repairing sewage and water pipes would be exempted.
Explaining the nature of work that can be exempted, Al Owaid said working on projects licensed from governmental departments which could affect the movement of traffic if the work halted for a few hours, will also be considered. Those mixing asphalt poured concretes will also be able to continue working.
He urged employers to provide shaded area for workers to rest in during the midday break as well as provide workers with adequate preventive methods to protect workers from work and heat-related injuries.