Ramadan 2022: ‘Am I entitled to overtime pay during the holy month?’

It is illegal to force employees to work more than two hours of overtime a day and they must be paid extra for this, according to UAE Labour Law

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , April 28 – 2020 :- Security guard monitoring the temperature of the visitors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus at one of the entrance of the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai. Authorities ease the restriction for the residents in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News/Standalone/Online/Instagram/Stock
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I work as a security guard for a large company. Despite working 12 hours a day during Ramadan, I am not being paid extra for working overtime.

Can I ask the management of my company to pay me overtime during the holy month? RP, Dubai

RP works for a large private company that should be aware of the labour rules and working hours during Ramadan.

These rules apply to all employees and, as explained in a previous column, the law states that all employees should work two hours a day less during the holy month.

Federal Law 33 of 2021, known as the new Labour Law, which came into effect on February 2, states in Article 17: “The maximum normal working hours for workers shall be eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week.”

The Labour Law also specifies the overtime limits and payment rates.

The rules regarding overtime also apply during Ramadan, so if staff are asked to work longer hours than are normal during this month, they should be paid overtime.

Employees can be asked to work up to two additional hours per day, or a maximum of 144 total working hours every three weeks. The overtime should be paid at the normal rate plus an increase of 25 per cent of the gross salary, including any allowances.

If an employee is asked to work additional hours from 9pm to 4am, the payment should be increased by 50 per cent of standard pay, unless they usually work shifts as part of their standard contract of employment.

The only exception to this is for senior and managerial staff, who are not legally entitled to overtime payments. However, all employers are expected to be considerate during Ramadan.

I have come across several cases in which security guards work more than the legal number of hours. This is not right.

All employers who insist that employees work excess hours are breaking the law if they do not pay them overtime. Individuals can raise a case against them with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

The ministry will take an especially dim view of a company that does not follow UAE law in terms of Ramadan working hours.

A real estate company employed me on January 14. They promised me that my visa has been processed, but I found out this is not true.

I now have overstay fines totalling Dh5,000. What can I do about this? SN, Dubai

Any company that takes on an employee but fails to apply for a visa at the outset is breaking the law.

Even if the individual is on a spouse or parent visa, the employer must apply for a work permit. Any individual who does not have a residency visa and work permit is working illegally and has no protection in law.

I have received similar letters in the past and it seems to be far too common for some real estate agents not to apply for a visa until someone has been with them for a few months.

The government is very clear about this situation. It issued Federal Decree Law No 7 for 2007, which amended the Immigration Law and increased the potential fine for employers who fail to obtain proper visas and permits for employees from Dh10,000 per worker to Dh50,000. This is unchanged.

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Any individual who does not have a residency visa and work permit is working illegally and has no protection in law
Keren Bobker, senior partner, Holborn Assets

In addition to this fine, employers can receive an additional Dh50,000 fine from the MoHRE. If an employer repeats the offence, the fines can increase.

A foreign company owner could face criminal proceedings, be deported or served with a lifetime ban. If the owner is a UAE citizen, they can receive a jail sentence.

Without a residency visa SN is not a legal employee and is responsible for any overstay fines that have accrued.

The employer will know this and has put SN in an unfair position because he has no recourse to a legal complaint without a residency visa. It also means he is not beholden to an employer and is not subject to, or protected by, UAE Labour Law.

My husband sponsors me and I don’t have a job. Can I open a bank account?

His bank said I cannot open an account, but is that really the case? AS, Ras Al Khaimah

Any resident adult can open a bank account in the UAE, whether they have an income or not. Most banks offer a non-salary account, although they are not all publicised. These usually offer a debit card and online banking but no credit facilities.

The LIV account from Emirates NBD and the Mashreq Neo Students and Housewives account are probably the easiest to set up because you can do it through their apps, without visiting a branch.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with more than 25 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only

Updated: April 17, 2022, 5:00 AM