Question: I recently read about an employment rule in the UAE that mandates breaks for employees during work. Can you explain this to me? Is it a mandatory requirement? Where and how can I complain if my employer refuses to give me this option?
Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are employed by a mainland private sector company incorporated in the UAE. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the ‘Employment Law’) are applicable.
In the UAE, an employee is entitled for break(s) in between working hours (if required in intervals) which may not be less than one hour in aggregate. Further, an employee may not work for more than five consecutive hours in a day without a break.
This is in accordance with Article 18 of the Employment Law, which states: “The employee may not work over five consecutive hours without one or more breaks which shall amount in aggregate to not less than one hour, provided that such break(s) shall not be calculated as part of the working hours. Working hours and breaks in the Establishment shall be regulated by shifts, or for certain categories depending on their nature - such as on-site positions - and as per the manpower classification specified in the Executive Regulations of this Decree-Law."
Based on the aforementioned provision of law, it is mandatory for an employer to provide break(s) to its employees in between the working hours. If your employer does not provide you break(s) of at least one hour in a day or after completion of five consecutive hours of work, then it is considered a violation of the Employment Law.
You may approach the employer and request that you be given the breaks as stipulated in the Employment Law. In the event your employer fails to do this, you may file a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (the ‘MOHRE’). This is in accordance with Article 54(1) of the Employment Law, which states: “In the event of a dispute arising between the Employer and the Employee, or anyone claiming through them, in connection with any rights arising to either of them under the provisions hereof, he shall file an application to the Ministry, which shall consider the application and take whatever necessary to settle the dispute between them amicably.”
If you don’t reach an amicable settlement, the MOHRE may refer the said matter to the court as mentioned in Article 54(2) of the Employment Law. Thereafter, you may consider filing an employment case against your employer in the court.
You may contact the MOHRE for further advice on this matter.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India.
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