UAE residents report flouting of Ramadan work hours

Readers also break silence, urging action against erring firms

Accommodating everyone
Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News
The reduction in regular work timings during Ramadan applies to all workers in both the public and the private sectorsregardless of their religious beliefs. Picture for illustrative purposes only.
71 Gulf News

Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Scores of non-Muslims have sought help from authorities concerned protesting against what they say is discrimination in terms of reduced work hours during Ramadan.

Many Gulf News readers also voiced complaints that they are made to work longer hours than their Muslim colleagues during Ramadan despite a Ministry of Labour announcement to the contrary. The ministry recently announced that all private and public sector staff are required to work a maximum of six to seven hours daily. Companies are required to reduce regular working hours by at least two hours during Ramadan.

The readers who took up the issue requested that their names not be disclosed as they feared it could have repercussions on their jobs.

One reader sent a copy of a letter from his company's human resource department that called on all non-Muslim senior staff and managers to work the full day from 9am till 5pm — a total of nine hours.

"This is racism," another reader who works for 12 hours every day in another company said. He said his firm, to add insult to injury, is also refusing to pay overtime this year for extra hours put in by employees. A senior ministry official told Gulf News that companies that do not reduce working hours for all their employees by two hours will face stiff penalties.

Labour permits

He said the penalties could include a fine of up to Dh10,000 and a suspension of the firm's eligibility for labour permits for a specified period.

The two-hour reduction in work timings applies to all workers both in the public and the private sector, regardless of their religious belief. The regulation allows those who work for eight hours a day throughout the year to avail of a six-hour work day in Ramadan, while those who work for nine hours should benefit from a seven-hour work day during the Holy Month.

One reader from Abu Dhabi said his company had not only asked staff to work for eight hours but also on Saturdays, which is the weekend off day. He asked where he could make a complaint. The ministry is currently inspecting firms to check compliance both with the Ramadan timings, as well as with the midday break rule that prohibits outdoor work between 12:30 pm and 3 pm till September 15.

The ministry official, however, noted that it was impossible to check on all the 180,000 labour establishments across the UAE. "We are at present focusing on midday break compliance, which is essential to ensure the basic health and rights of workers," he said. According to the official, employers can only legally require employees to put in more than the six or seven hours of work with their consent. "In this case, the extra hours of work cannot exceed four hours on a daily basis, and the worker must be paid 150 per cent of his normal hourly rate of pay for each extra hour worked."

But sales staff at the Computer Plaza in Bur Dubai complain that shop owners do not bother about the rules. "Everyone is forced to work longer hours," said one salesman. "No one can complain because no one wants to lose their jobs," he said.


  • 6 to 7 hours maximum work time for all Muslims and non-Muslims.
  • 150 per cent of normal hourly rate to be paid if working overtime.
  • 12.30pm-3pm midday summer break for outdoor workers.
  • Hotline: Call 800 665 to lodge complaint with Ministry of Labour


  • ashlie

    Aug 4, 2011 4:44

    non-Muslim or Muslim should be thanks because this country is fair to all!! to all boss you need to follow what is the rules dont abuse your employees!! ALLAH KAREEM!! thanks to authorities to give this good option for Ramadan more power and success to this country!!!

  • Basti

    Aug 4, 2011 4:34

    The comments on this article has really gone out of hand. There was no need to mention racism here.

  • Ali

    Aug 4, 2011 4:22

    I don't think that a big problem. That's good that the ministry is being fair with all in the holy month of Ramadan, But, Muslims are fasting, while non-Muslims are still having their breakfast and lunch. They have the energy to work more. Even if they work normal hours, what's the problem with that? Don't measure yourself in this month with the people who are fasting.I'm not trying to be harsh or whatever, but what's the difference? 2 hours work? At least Muslims can can have good use of it while reading Quran and practicing their religion before "Iftar".

  • Mehwish

    Aug 4, 2011 3:48

    I have been trying to complain about this issue but thinking who is going to take action against this...we are working 10 hrs normally and during Ramadan its 8 hrs regardless of being Muslim or colleagues are afraid to complain because of losing their jobs and also fear of losing the Saturday holiday..Our management also cancelled the lunch break time for non-Muslim employees...everyone is suffering in this case...actually they dont consider lunch break of 30 minutes in normal working hours but during Ramadan month they reduce 2 hrs from the normal working hour...they will ask staff to work for 8 hrs...whereas people working in factories are working 10 hrs during Ramadan..someone has to strictly check and punish the employers violating the Labour Law

  • Jenny

    Aug 4, 2011 3:42

    since 2006 our company has not giving us overtime nor shorter hours during ramadan but scared to complain as maybe the company will terminate my service, any idea where to cal

  • Maxine

    Aug 4, 2011 3:29

    I'm working here in a Company that is under Ajman Free Zone,But this company didn't follow regulation regarding the Ramadan timings even last year.workers are advised to work for the same regular hrs. hope Ministry of Labor will conduct inspection in all establishment so that the companies who violated the law will punish.

  • Shaikh Mohammad Ayyub

    Aug 4, 2011 3:17

    Who ever non-Muslims are complaining it is not fair. In many companies there are 10 hours duty daily, say 08 AM to 06 PM. But in Ramdan it is 08 to 04. Even i am working 8 hours daily whether I am a Muslim. Non-Muslim should keep in their mind that they are taking tea break and lunch break but Muslims are not taking. Non-Muslim should say thanks to this country that the rule are same for everybody. But in India there is no deduction in duty hours for Muslim in Ramdan. but here they are giving this facility even to non-Muslim. So non-Muslims should say thanks.

  • Phil

    Aug 4, 2011 2:51

    Does anybody know how to report an employer who is abusing the working hours.I dont have a problem in reporting my employer, but just dont know how to?

  • AM

    Aug 4, 2011 2:31

    To Jasim: The whole point in my comment was to put a light on another law which most non-Muslims are ignoring, i-e not to eat in front of people who are fasting.If people are complaining about working hours violation, then why not consider another violation which they do by eating in front of fasting colleagues.Please understand the text before jumping directly to the strength of your faith and rewards from Allah

  • Anna

    Aug 4, 2011 2:24

    It is so unfair, that we are working almost ten hours, and my cousin working in a hospital is working twelve hours duty, no day off,

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Latest Comment

non-Muslim or Muslim should be thanks because this country is fair to all!! to all boss you need to follow what is the rules dont abuse your employees!! ALLAH KAREEM!! thanks to authorities to give this good option for Ramadan more power and success to this country!!!


4 August 2011 17:34jump to comments