Nine in 10 Mena professionals happy with company support during Ramadan

Many employees receive flexible work arrangements or shorter hours, according to study

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 18 MAY 2019. RAMADAN STANDALONE. Sunset at the Al Salam Mosque in Al Barsha 2 in Dubai. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: None. Section: National.
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More than 90 per cent of professionals in the Mena region believe their employers provide adequate support during Ramadan, a poll by, the Middle East’s largest job site, found.

According to the company's Ramadan in the Middle East & North Africa survey, 78 per cent of respondents said their employers offer flexible working arrangements or shorter hours during the holy month. Nearly 8,000 respondents from across the Middle East, including the UAE, were surveyed online from April 3 to May 19.

In the UAE, the government reduced the working day by two hours for private sector employees and amended working hours for public sector employees to 9am to 2pm, instead of 7:30am to 2:30pm.

According to the study, companies could improve their support in a few ways: 61 per cent of those polled said their employer could avoid scheduling meetings in the morning, while setting special Ramadan working hours was important to 22 per cent. Arranging special prayer times and facilities and organising Iftar gatherings would improve Ramadan for 7 per cent and 5 per cent of those polled respectively.

In terms of productivity, nearly 90 per cent of professionals stated that they were satisfied with their performance levels during Ramadan last year. Around 95 per cent said they feel optimistic about their careers during the month.

There are some exceptions to Ramadan hours in the Emirates. The reduction in working hours does not apply to “persons holding responsible managerial or supervisory positions” and in the DIFC, Ramadan hours apply only to employees “who are observing the fast,” according to Neil Crossley, employment practice group head at DLA Piper law firm in Dubai.

“In the DIFC they take a different view. It’s really that the shortened hours are there to support those people who are fasting, rather than provide a month of shortened hours for those who aren’t,” said Mr Crossley.

He added that in practice, even though shorter hours do not apply to senior staff it is “very unlikely” that an employer will impose longer working hours on those members of staff who are fasting.

Other GCC countries also have Ramadan hours stipulated by the government. Five of the GCC countries limit Ramadan working hours to 36 per week, while in Oman it is 30 hours per week. In Saudi Arabia, the reduced hours do not apply to non-Muslim employees.

In Kuwait, public sector employees work from 9am to 1:30pm. Oman and Qatar’s public sector working hours are 9am to 2pm. Saudi Arabia starts later at 10am until 3pm. Bahrain has the longest Ramadan working hours with public sector employees at work from 8am until 2pm.

Elsewhere in the region, there are both formal and informal rules around working hours in Ramadan. For example, the Egyptian Exchange announced its trading hours as 9:30am to 2pm, instead of 9:30am to 3:30pm. Meanwhile, many Egyptian private sector companies informally set working hours as 9am to 3pm.