Office work hours during the Holy month of Ramadan are different, with an average two hours reduced from the daily job schedule, but there may be exceptions.
Here are some questions answered by experts at Taylor Wessing (Middle East), an international law firm, relevant for office goers in Dubai during Ramadan.
What are Ramadan Hours?
Under the Labour Law, the working hours of all employees shall be reduced by two hours per day during the Holy month of Ramadan. This means that employees should only work 6 hours per day (as the statutory maximum working hours are 8 hours per day).
Under the DIFC Employment Law, employees who observe the fast during the Holy month of Ramadan shall not be required to work in excess of 6 hours each day. Fasting employees who choose to work for more than 6 hours a day shall be entitled to their statutory rest breaks (i.e., of not more than one hour in aggregate – as if the employee worked a full day).
Does it apply to my company?
Yes, Ramadan hours apply to all companies in the UAE proper, whether they are based onshore or in a free zone.
Ramadan hours apply to all companies in the DIFC.
Is it applicable for non-Muslims?
UA Labour Law provides that working hours should be reduced by two hours per day and does not differentiate between fasting and non-fasting employees. Therefore, it is applicable to all employees irrespective of their religion or whether they are fasting or not.
Within the DIFC, only fasting employees’ working hours are reduced by two hours. Non-fasting employees can be required to work normal hours.
Can my company get into trouble if we work normal hours?
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 company. The penalty is in the discretion of the authorities and may be imposed on a case by case basis.
The same holds for DIFC. Authorities may conduct checks from time to time to ensure companies comply with the DIFC Employment Law and if a company is found in breach, such company may be penalised.
Can I only pay my employees for 6 hours during this period as they are not working full time?
No, there should be no reduction in compensation as a result of a reduction in working hours. Employees should be paid at their normal rates as if they are working normal working hours.
As in Dubai proper, there shall be no reduction in compensation as a result of a reduction in working hours for fasting DIFC employees.
NOTE: There are different laws that govern employment issues for employees in the UAE/Dubai proper (including free zones as they are subject to UAE Federal Law) and for employees in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC, which have own labour law separate from the rest of the UAE). In the UAE, the UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 as amended (the Labour Law) applies to all employees working in the UAE with a couple of exceptions (such as government employees, household servants etc.). Similarly, the DIFC Employment Law No. 4 of 2005 as amended (DIFC Employment Law) applies to employees working within the DIFC.
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