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01 December 2023

UAE may soon have equal holidays for public and private sectors

By Shuchita Kapur

The issue of disparity between public and private sector holidays in the UAE may finally come to an end as the number of off days given to employees in the private sector may finally be aligned with those working for government institutions.


Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, yesterday announced the move to adjust the holidays, aiming to make the private sector jobs more appealing for Emiratis.

“The Minister of Labour has been assigned to adjust the working hours and days of the private sector to be more compatible with those of the public sector,” Sheikh Mansour was quoted as saying.

Every holiday in the country tends to rake up this issue of disparity with some private sector employees very vocal about their feelings of working on days when their public sector counterparts are enjoying a day off.

Employees working in the private sector have welcomed the news. “I hope it finally happens. We’ve been working more for years,” said Jason D’souza, an employee with a private company based in the Media City.

However, recruitment experts in the industry believe that this will not be an easy task as private companies struggle to improve bottom lines.

“Whilst the obvious and tempting response is a resounding ‘YES’, I think it should be the other way – with many public holidays in the UAE, plus the fact that since the crisis there is less cash about for both private and government sectors, should the government sector be in line with the private sector?” Peter Greaves, Director, Head of Financial Markets at McArthur Murray, Dubai had told Emirates 24|7 the last time this issue was raked up during a public holiday.

The current law of the country grants a weekly off for private sector workers whereas government employees have two days off. To be fair, however, a large number of private sector companies do offer a two-day weekend to their employees even as some do not.

Besides the weekly holidays, government employees are also allotted longer public holidays. If we calculate the holidays, many private sector employees end up working an extra 57 days a year.

If the plans to align private and public sector holidays are indeed implemented, there will be less disparity among the two sectors and this will see many Emiratis consider private jobs. Statistics show that Emiratis account for only 20,000 of the four million workers in the private sector.

For full list of holidays in the public and private sector read



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