During the month of Ramadan, employees in the UAE are entitled to work reduced office hours, with an average two hours reduced from the daily job schedule, but there may be exceptions.
While the UAE Labour Law does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees, the regulations are different within Dubai’s financial free zone.
The UAE Labour Law provides that working hours should be reduced by two hours per day during Ramadan, and does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees. So, the reduced work-hours rule is applicable to all Muslim and non-Muslim employees and irrespective of whether they are fasting or not.
Within the DIFC, however, only fasting employees’ working hours are reduced by two hours. Non-fasting employees may be required by their employers to work regular hours.
As per Article 65 of the UAE Labour Law, the maximum number of ordinary working hours for adult workers shall be eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week. The number of hours may be increased to nine hours per day for people employed in trade, hotels, cafeterias, security and other jobs.
Pay-cut for reduced working days?
According to the UAE Labour Law, ordinary working hours shall be reduced by two hours during Ramadan; so this means that employees should only work 6 hours per day (as the statutory maximum working hours are 8 hours per day).
This, however, does not mean that employees should take a pay cut for the reduced hours.
Compensate for reduced hours by working from home?
Employers cannot ask their employees to work extra hours from home, as this will also be counted towards the employee’s total hours.
There are certain exceptions that both employers and employees need to be aware of. The law for non-fasting employees in the DIFC also varies.
If a company does ask their employees to work their regular hours during Ramadan, they should compensate the staff accordingly as these hours will be considered overtime.
The authorities do conduct checks from time to time to ensure that companies are compliant with the Labour Law and employees are working Ramadan hours.
If a company is found in breach of the Labour Law, the authorities have the discretion to penalise such a company. The penalty is at the discretion of the authorities and may be imposed on a case-by-case basis.
A ministerial circular on the reduction of work hours this Ramadan is awaited.