Midday Break for UAE Workers from June 15

Labourers must be provided with shaded areas, cold water, first aid

Published: 17:17 May 31, 2015

Abu Dhabi: Beginning June 15, workers who labour outdoors will be entitled to a midday break, giving them a much-needed respite from the soaring heat when the sun is at its highest in the skies, according to a decision taken by Saqr Gobash Saeed Gobash, Minister of Labour.

The decision issued by the ministry for the eleventh year in a row says that companies have to give a two-and-a-half hour break from 12.30pm to 3pm to labourers who work in open areas such as construction sites.

The three-month midday break rule will last until September 15. Employers are instructed to provide a shaded area for workers to rest during the midday break and employers should provide adequate preventive methods to protect workers from work-related injuries.

The ministry stated that daily working hours must not exceed eight hours in the morning or night shift, and overtime should be paid to those working additional hours.

The decision has required employers to post working hours and shift schedules at every work site, in the workers’ language and in Arabic, so officials can easily check during inspections.

Maher Al Obad, assistant undersecretary for inspection affairs, said the decision is meant to enhance a health and safety culture and confirms abidance by international standards in this regard.

“The Labour Ministry plans to carry out as many as 60,000 inspection visits to companies to follow up on their abidance by the rules.

Offenders will have the classification of their companies downgraded by the ministry, and will be fined Dh5,000 for each worker, not exceeding Dh50,000.

According to the ministry’s decision, labourers must not work at all during the banned hours if they usually work outside. But companies working on emergency projects can continue work.

Another decision by Mubarak Al Daheri, undersecretary of the ministry, states that companies doing work which must continue for technical reasons are exempt from the ban. Workers can continue working during the banned hours if they are working on projects that cannot be postponed for technical reasons such as asphalting of roads and laying concrete as well as repairing damage to water pipes, petrol pipes, sewage pipes or the disconnection of electrical lines.

This also includes those working on projects licensed from government departments which could affect the flow of traffic, or also that which could affect electrical, water supplies or communications.

Companies which are permitted to continue work must provide cold drinking water to the workers and there must be a limited number of workers only in addition to all kinds of safety and public health requirements.

The workers must be supplied with salt and lemon, which is approved for use by health authorities in the country. They must also provide first aid at the work site and there must be appropriate industrial and protective umbrellas to shield them from the sun.

Labour officials said all employers must comply with requirements needed for workers who perform work without stop and to prevent them from heat exhaustion and heatstroke.

Employers must provide all facilities that cater to the health of workers, including first aid, air-conditioners, sunshades and cold water.

Employers who have labourers working on projects exempt from the rules must be provided with enough cold water, lemon, salt and healthy salads during working hours.

Employers are also instructed to provide a shaded area for workers to rest during the midday break and employers must provide adequate preventive methods to protect workers from work-related injuries.

Complaints can be reported to the ministry by calling the toll-free telephone number 800665.

(Source: GulfNews.com)

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