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Ramadan working hours in the UAE

Written by Rebecca Ford

The holy month of Ramadan is expected to start by the end of this week. During Ramadan, the normal working hours for all employees who work in the private sector (excluding the Dubai International Financial Centre, the "DIFC"), whether or not they are Muslim or fasting, are to be reduced by two hours per day.

Reduced working hours under the UAE Labour Law

It was reported in the press last week that a Ministry of Labour source stated that working hours during Ramadan will be "36 hours a week, instead of 48 hours per week in other months".  Whilst this is correct and in accordance with the provisions of the UAE Labour Law (Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, as amended), bear in mind that this statement is based upon a 6-day working week.

In accordance with the UAE Labour Law, the maximum number of normal working hours outside of Ramadan are eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week, assuming a 6-day week.  This means that employees working a 5-day week would normally work a total of 40 hours per week.  During Ramadan, the maximum normal working hours are reduced by 2 hours per day, which leads to a 36-hour week for those who work six days per week, or alternatively, a 30-hour week for those who work five days per week.

Any employee working in excess of the normal working hours (or reduced normal working hours during Ramadan) is entitled to overtime payments in accordance with the UAE Labour Law.

The overtime provisions (and other working time provisions) do not apply to employees in a senior and/or managerial position.  However, the scope of employees falling within this category is very limited – in accordance with a Ministry of Labour Resolution, senior and/or managerial positions for these purposes means the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Managing Director, Departmental Heads, and Supervisory staff, provided always that the employees listed here have the delegated authority to act on behalf of the company.

Reduced working hours under the DIFC Employment Law

Finally, the working time provisions in the DIFC are slightly different. 

During Ramadan, in accordance with the DIFC Employment Law (DIFC Law No. 4 of 2005), an employee who is a fasting Muslim shall not be required to work in excess of six hours per day (although an employee can choose to do so).  An employee who is not a fasting Muslim has no entitlement to reduced hours during Ramadan.

 Should you have any questions in connection with this article or the legal issues it covers, please contact Rebecca Ford.