The discrepancies in the number of holidays between the public and private sector in the UAE is one of the major obstacles of the Emiratisation drive, according to experts.
On most occasions, public sector employees get more holidays than those working in private sector firms. According to sources, public sector gets 51 days off, of which 48 days are Saturdays. Whereas, most private sector employees get just one weekly day off.
Similarly, public sector staff get at least 13 official holidays a year, while private sector gets10.
However, there are some occasions when they enjoy uniform day-offs. For instance both the public and private sector staff get a holiday on the first day of the New Year.
Similarly, on the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and Isra’a Wa Miraj, employees of both sectors get one day holiday each.
But for other festivities, the number of holidays is uneven. To begin with government staff gets a two-day weekend, while most private sector firms work on Saturdays.
While government sector staff gets a two-day holiday for National Day celebrations, private sector contends with one.
Similarly, public sector gets a 3-day break for Eid al-Fitr, when employees of private firms get two days. And for Eid al-Adha, government sector gets four days holidays, while private sector gets three days.
Currently, there are about 3.8 million workers in 285,000 firms in the private sector in the UAE.
A source at the Ministry of Labour said authorities are doing their best to maintain the rights of private sector workers.
He added that equalising the number of official holidays for both the sectors primarily requires a political decision.
A source at the Ministry of Labour said that the ‘Abshir Initiative’ started under the directives of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, aims at promoting Emiratisation in the private sector.
He added this initiative also aims to reduce the gap between salaries and benefits in the public sector and the private sector, which includes the holiday discrepancy.
Meanwhile, Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Labor, said the human resources symposium that was organised recently also addressed the difference of benefits in the Federal and Government sectors and the private firms.
Some of the differences, Ghobash said, include the number of working hours and sick leave. While government sector employees work for six hours, private sector staff works for eight hours. Similarly, while the former segment gets a full year sick leave, private sector workers get 15 days.
The labor law and the labor contract are keys to healthy worker-employer relationship.
According to the UAE labour law, employees are entitled to two days off every month during their probationary period [first six months in the job] and thereafter 30 days each year.
The source said, “According to the labour law private sector staff is entitled to 10 days official holidays, which includes the first day of the New Year, Hijri New Year, two days for Eid al-Fitr, three days for Eid al-Adha and one day each for the Prophet Mohammed [PBUH] birthday, Isra’a Wa Miraj and the National Day.
The ministry source clarified that if private sector staff works on these official holidays they should be awarded compensatory offs as well as 50 per cent of his daily salary. And in case no compensatory off can be given the worker must be given 150 per cent of his wages for working on a public holiday.
He said the ministry is open to receiving any number of complaints and workers are free to contact them on toll free number 800 665.