UAE's midday break for outdoor workers begins on June 15

Annual initiative is to safeguard employees from punishing summer temperatures

The UAE's mandatory midday break for outdoor workers will begin on June 15.

The annual initiative – led by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation – is to protect employees from the extremes of the summer heat.

The policy prohibits people from carrying out work in open spaces between 12.30pm and 3pm, and will remain in effect until September 15.

Companies caught breaking the rules will face fines of up to Dh50,000.

The initiative was first introduced by the ministry in 2004.

The law sets out strict guidelines for employers to follow to ensure the safety of their workers.

They must provide employees with a shaded place to rest during their break and daily working hours – for morning, evening or both shifts – are not to exceed eight hours.

If a member of staff works for longer than eight hours, it will be considered paid overtime.

“The health and safety of workers is the cornerstone of labour-market legislation, and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation is committed to creating the necessary conditions to ensure a safe work environment for them,” said Mohsen Al Nassi, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspection Affairs, in comments carried by state news agency Wam.

“The midday work break, which is being implemented for the 19th year in a row, is in line with the highest professional and humane standards designed to protect workers from potential risk of injury resulting from high temperatures during the summer, especially at noon.

“The decision to ban work at midday is a notable milestone for the labour market and an integral part of work environment regulations in the UAE and of our community culture, where the ministry’s partners and other individuals launch a range of initiatives during the summer months to provide supplies that protect workers from exposure, heat exhaustion, and sunstroke.

“We are confident that employers across the country will comply with the provisions of the ban. Over the past years, we have seen impressive compliance rates, which confirms the level of awareness in the market about the importance of this decision and its effective role in protecting workers from the hazards of direct exposure to sunlight or working in open spaces around noon.”

The ministry said that some jobs, where such breaks are not possible, are exempt from the regulations.

These include workers carrying out important repairs or work that involves disruption to utilities, including water and electricity supply.

In such instances, employers are required to provide sufficient cold drinking water for staff, approved foods and ensure first-aid provisions are in place.

A fine of Dh5,000 per worker will be imposed on employers breaking rules, up to a maximum penalty of Dh50,000.

The ministry urged members of the public to report any breaches of the midday break policy through its call centre at 600 590 000.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 9:04 AM