Some UAE federal government employees will be able to apply for a switch to a four-day week from July 1 under new flexible working rules set out by authorities.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources said staff could be eligible to complete their set weekly hours in four days – working no more than 10 hours per day or 40 hours per week – as part of the intensive working hours plan, if agreed by their employer.
The authority said in an update later on Thursday that the application of the four-day week would be "subject to specific, clear, and exceptional regulations" relating to individual federal bodies and job roles and would require prior approval.
The new measures, which have been published on the authority's website this week, form part of a new working model outlined for government employees.
The plan also allows for remote working, both in and outside of the country and to cover temporary and part-time jobs.
"The system is allowed to be applied in exceptional cases in accordance with the regulations specified in the human resources manuals, and it is only done with the approval of the head of the entity, and it is within a specific and short period of time," said the authority in a notice shared on social media.
The move to a three-day weekend for some workers is in line with the UAE's efforts to deliver more agile and efficient employment rules.
In November 2021, authorities introduced similar procedures for the private sector, covering temporary and flexible work, freelance jobs, condensed working hours and shared jobs.
A condensed working model was established in which staff could work for only three days per week, as long as they completed 40 hours in this period.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said this would require the agreement of both the employee and the employer.
Four-day week pays dividends
The UAE moved to a 4.5 day week for government staff in January 2022, as part of its shift to a Saturday-Sunday weekend, which moved it in line with many leading economies across the globe.
The new rules allowed for staff to work full-time from Monday to Thursday, with a half day on Fridays.
Sharjah introduced its own a four-day work week for government workers at the same time.
The emirate's leadership said the switch had proved successful.
Eight months after Sharjah adopted a four-day work week, the number of road-related accidents and deaths in the emirate has been slashed by 40 per cent, official figures showed.
In the first three months of the year, the emirate noted a huge reduction in traffic accidents and fatalities compared with the same period last year.
Findings from a study presented at a Sharjah Executive Council meeting last August attributed the drop in road traffic accidents to the new working week.
Officials said there has also been a significant boost in government employee productivity. Those working in departments that enjoy a Friday to Sunday weekend reported feeling healthier and happier, and having more time to spend with their families.
As a result, customer happiness also improved across a number of Sharjah government services.