Employees who have to work longer hours in Ramadan must be paid overtime.
During the holy month, a working day becomes shorter by two hours for all Muslim and non-Muslim employees.
Businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and hospitals may require staff to work longer hours but they should be paid overtime.
“For any extra working hour, an employee is entitled to receive their usual remuneration plus an increase of at least 25 per cent of their hourly wage,” said Dr Hasan Elhais, legal consultant of Al Rowaad Advocates.
“If the overtime is worked between 9pm and 4am, an employee is entitled to receive their usual remuneration plus an increase of at least 50 per cent of their hourly salary.”
The overtime is calculated upon the gross salary (basic pay plus allowances).
Dr Elhais said the overtime rules are applicable throughout the year.
In the UAE, employees are required to work 9 hours with one hour of break time. This reduces by two hours during the holy month.
Overtime must not exceed two hours per day unless the nature of work can prevent substantial loss or serious accident, a rule that also applies during Ramadan, said Dr Elhais.
“The law doesn’t mention days off in return for extra hours,” he said.
People who are permanently on late shift, such as airport and hospital employees, and if their working hours were mentioned in the contract and agreed upon, are not entitled to extra pay for such shifts.
But they will be entitled to overtime if they work longer hours during Ramadan.
The overtime rule only applies to junior staff and not those in senior roles, said Dr Hasan.
“In case employees are not paid for the extra hours worked, they should request payment and if it doesn't happen, they must complain to the Ministry of Human Resources,” he said.
Businesses that The National spoke to said they plan ahead to ensure staff do not have to work extra hours.
“We will give full benefit of reduced working hours to our regular staff, including the general manager,” said Asier Baquero, general manager at Occidental Sharjah Grand Hotel.
“There are no overtime hours generated during Ramadan. We employ outsourced staff to cover the reduced working hours.”
Zulekha Healthcare Group said it also tries to not burden employees with extra hours during Ramadan.
“Considering the holy month, working hours of our clinical and non-clinical staff are always planned ahead to ensure employees maintain a balance while fasting,” said Taher Shams, managing director of Zulekha Healthcare Group.
Staff work on a rota to ensure patient care is not compromised and emergency services are always available.
“Our doctors are scheduled on shifts between 9am to midnight on all days during the month and they get their scheduled weeks off as well. Doctors across all specialities are also available on call as and when required,” he said.