UAE weekend change: All you need to know
For the vast majority of businesses in the UAE, the change of weekend will not extend to half-day on Fridays. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE’s private sector is giving an overwhelming buy-in to the weekend switch that goes into effect from the first week of the New Year. But the private sector, or vast swathes of it, will stick to the two-day weekend rather than join in with government departments on a 2.5-day break.

“The shift to the new working weekend in the UAE has strong support from the private sector,” said Ted Raffoul, Mercer’s Career and Workforce Products Business Leader, MENA, after releasing the new report on how businesses intend to follow the changed work days in the UAE. “The companies that will thrive as employers of choice will be those that continue to stay attuned to the needs of their diverse workforces.”

“Employers in the UAE must continue to offer staff flexibility, particularly for parents given that schools will operate a half-day on Friday, and to accommodate religious needs. Offering staff the choice to work from home, or to work flexible days and or hours, will support talent attraction and retention.”

  1. Only 23% of respondents in the Mercer survey of businesses said they are likely to adopt a half-day work policy on Fridays.
  2. A majority reckon they will operate on a hybrid basis, with a workforce composing of a mix of office and field workers.
  3. 84% of surveyed firms believe the new weekend will have a positive impact on transacting internationally.

Syncing with the world

The shift in working week was favorably received according to the survey, with 84 per cent of firms reckoning it will have a positive impact on transacting internationally, and thus “bringing benefit to business outside of the region”. But 37 per cent of firms polled are unsure of the impact of the new weekend on business activities within the Middle East.

Across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, the majority of firms will adopt the Saturday-Sunday weekend model. For the firms that are choosing to fully align to the government’s half-day Friday, Saturday-Sunday weekend, there are many considerations with regards to working hours, with two out of three employers stating that working hours will not be increased. Nor will remuneration be affected, in order to compensate for the reduced working hours.