‘Can my employer change my time sheet to reduce actual hours worked?’

A company that amends working hours on a time sheet and tells an employee to sign it is breaking the law

Security staff at work in the UAE. Companies that insist employees work excess hours are breaking the law. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National
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I work for a security company in Dubai. My duty hours every day are 12 hours, including a one-hour break and two hours of mandatory overtime.

We sign a time sheet every month that includes our duty hours. During Ramadan, we worked 12 hours as usual but were made to sign a pre-filled time sheet stating 10 hours of work.

When we asked about the change, we were told it is according to the UAE law. Is there any law in the UAE for the month of Ramadan where actual working hours are reduced to 10 hours on time sheets but we have to work 12 hours as usual? SS, Dubai

The UAE's Labour Law has always stated that working hours are to be reduced by two hours during the month of Ramadan. It is also included in the new Labour Law, Federal Law 33 of 2021, which came into force on February 2.

This also applies to SS and his colleagues, although I am aware that many security staff are forced to work excessive hours without proper breaks and days off.

Any employer who amends a time sheet and forces an employee to sign it, but fails to reduce their working hours, is clearly breaking the law.

No employer should make anyone sign an incorrect document, especially when the intention is to subvert a very clear law.

SS's actual working hours are also in excess of those mandated by law. Article 17 of the Labour Law states: “The maximum normal working hours for workers shall be eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week.”

The implementing regulations, in Article 15, which refer to working hours, clarify it: “The employer may employ the worker for additional working hours over the normal working hours, provided that they do not exceed two hours per day.”

It adds: “In all cases, the total working hours must not exceed 144 hours every three weeks.”

New UAE labour laws come into effect

New UAE labour laws come into effect

This employer is breaking the law in terms of hours worked as well as making employees sign an incorrect time sheet and ignoring the reduced working day mandate during Ramadan.

SS and his colleagues have the right to register a case with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. The ministry can be contacted by telephone on 600 590 000 or via the chat function on the website. It is also possible to request a call back.

I am aware that registering a case can cause a problem for individual employees, but the ministry is supportive and can speak to a company that breaks the law.

If a company is known to have breached the UAE Labour Law, they will be unable to take on further employees as their visa quotas can be restricted.

I resigned from my job last week after working for the company for 21 months. My contract states I am entitled to Dh3,000 as airfare once every two years.

However, the company is refusing to pay me this allowance as part of my end-of-service settlement. They aren’t willing to pay even a part of this amount.

They claim I will be entitled to this amount only after completing two years. Don’t they have to pay for my flight if I leave the UAE? MT, Ras Al Khaimah

MT’s entitlement to this benefit depends on the exact wording in the employment contract.

If the contract states the airfare is payable after completing two years, then the employer is correct as this period has not been completed. The employer will pay part of it only if the contract states the benefit is payable pro-rata.

The issue of paying for a flight on leaving the UAE is covered in Article 13 of the UAE Labour Law.

“Bearing the repatriation expenses of the worker to his place of recruitment or any other place that both parties had agreed upon, unless he has already joined the service of another employer or unless the reason for terminating the contract was attributed to the worker, then the latter shall be liable for incurring those expenses,” the law states.

In this case, as MT has resigned, the employer is only obliged to pay for a flight if he is leaving the UAE to return to his home country if he does not have the money to pay.

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: June 19, 2022, 5:00 AM