Find out what the law says about outdoor work during the summer.
Question: The UAE’s midday work ban has taken effect. I want to know if there is any law or guideline for unavoidable work under direct sun, like continuous concrete or other construction activities. If yes, what are the conditions? Do we need to get any approvals?
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, it is not allowed for employees to work directly under sunlight between 12.30pm and 3pm during the summer as per the provisions of Ministerial Decree No. 401 of 2015 Concerning the Determination of Midday Working Hours (the ‘Midday Working Hours Relaxation Law of UAE’).
Article 1 of the law states: “The working hours are determined for the works performed under the sun and in open areas provided that labour shall not be present at the working site after 12.30pm. No business shall be resumed before 3pm. The employer shall provide an appropriate shelter for such labour to rest therein during this period.”
On June 2, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (the ‘MOHRE’) had announced that all work performed directly under the sun and in open places is not allowed between the peak hours of 12.30pm and 3pm from June 15 to September 15.
The MOHRE has not mentioned the exempted sectors this year.
However, in 2020, the MOHRE had specified the exempted sectors. Employees may continue working during the prohibited 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 in water pipes, petrol pipes, sewage pipes or the disconnection of electrical lines.
This also includes those working on projects licensed from governmental departments, which could affect the flow of traffic, or also that which could affect electrical, water supplies or communications.
Employers of the exempted sectors must provide cool drinking water to all its employees in accordance with the requirements of public safety and health, in addition to first-aid kits in the workplace, in accordance with Article 5 of the Midday Working Hours Relaxation Law of UAE.
Therefore, based on the aforementioned provisions of law and the official statements of MOHRE, it is assumed that continuous concreting and other construction activities may not come within the brackets of exempted sectors.
It should be noted that the employers who violate the provisions of Midday Working Hours Relaxation Law of UAE may have to pay the penalties and repeated breach of the aforesaid law by an employer may attract suspension of such companies or facilities.
This is in accordance with Article 6 of the Midday Working Hours Relaxation Law of UAE, which states: “Without prejudice of the penalties set forth in the Law, Decrees, and Executive Regulations:
1. Each facility not complying with the provisions hereof shall pay a fine at the amount of Dh5,000 per employee, with a maximum of Dh50,000 in the event of plurality of employees caused to work in breach of the provisions of this Decree.
2. In addition to the provisions of Paragraph (1) of this Article, if any facility breaches the provisions of this Decree; the Inspection Sector shall submit a memorandum to the Minister containing a statement of such breach and the number of employees caused to work during midday to consider suspending or ceasing such facility business along with lowering its classification, based upon the gravity of the breach according to number of the employees involved or repeated breach.”
It is recommended that you contact the MOHRE for further advice.
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. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.