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UAE: More on the Workweek Changes in the Public Sector

An aerial view of the city of dubai and the burj khalifa.

​The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government recently announced a new workweek for all public-sector employees as follows:

  • The new workweek for the public sector will span 4.5 days from Monday to Friday.
  • The weekend will now be Saturday and Sunday instead of Friday and Saturday.

For the last 15 years, the weekend in the UAE has been Friday and Saturday, which is currently the weekend in most—but not all—countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The UAE is adopting the "international weekend" along with many other Muslim majority countries such as Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan, Morocco and Indonesia.

The Public Sector

As of Jan. 1, the new workweek for the public sector is as follows:

  • Monday to Thursday (8-hour workday from 7.30 a.m. to 3.30 p.m.).
  • Friday will be a 4.5-hour workday starting from 7:30 a.m. and ending at 12:00 p.m. to accommodate Muslim prayer timings.
  • Friday prayers will be held at 1.15 p.m. throughout the year.
  • The changes encourage flexible hours and remote work.

The Emirate of Sharjah will implement a three-day weekend for the public sector. Some other governmental entities are understood to be considering the implementation of a three-day weekend.

The Education Sector

The federal and emirate-level government regulators of the education sector have ordered the schools to implement the 4.5 day week and new weekend, with schools ordered to end classes on Friday at 12 p.m. and implement a Saturday to Sunday weekend.

In the Emirate of Sharjah, schools will observe the school week from Monday to Thursday and align with the public sector's 3-day weekend.

The Banking Sector

The UAE Central Bank has issued a circular to banks in the UAE requiring them to maintain a six-day banking week.

The current bank holiday of Friday will be moved to Sunday.

The Private Sector

There is no reduction in work hours for the private sector.

The new Labor Law that will come into effect on Feb. 2 maintains the six-day workweek, but removes Friday as the statutory weekend.

Private companies have the discretion to maintain a six- or five-day workweek, and to adjust the weekend to Saturday and Sunday.

Many private companies will shift their weekend to Saturday and Sunday, but some companies that primarily do business with other Middle East countries plan to maintain the Friday to Saturday weekend to be aligned with their business partners and customers.

Private-sector companies should review their current policies and schedules, particularly considering the change to schooling hours that will have an effect on many employees.

Amereller is a law firm with an office in Dubai, UAE. © 2022 Amereller. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission of Lexology.


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