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In general, employees in the UAE's private sector are entitled to overtime pay. However, there are certain categories that may not be eligible for overtime pay. Picture used for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: If you are working as a full-time employee in the UAE’s private sector, it is important to understand what the maximum working hours are in the UAE and what your rights are when it comes to working overtime and being paid for it.

Articles 17, 18 and 19 of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021, the UAE’s Labour Law, stipulate how working hours are calculated and what is the maximum amount of time a worker can work before they are entitled to a break.

Here are five key points to keep in mind.

1. Regular working hours are 8 hours per day, 48 hours per week

In a post on its official social media accounts on January 20, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), specified four important aspects related to working hours in the UAE’s private sector:

1. Regular working hours are 8 hours per day or 48 hours per week

2. Commuting time from and to the workplace is excluded from working hours except for some cases and within controls specified in the implementing regulations.

3. Working hours are specified in the employment contract for non-full-time work patterns.

4. Working hours shall not exceed 5 consecutive hours without a minimum one-hour break.

2. The commute time can be counted as part of your working hours in these exceptional cases

Article 15 of Cabinet Resolution No. (1) of 2022, highlights three circumstances when the commute is included within working hours:

a. Any delay by the worker, in transit, in case of bad weather and in response to the warnings of the National Centre of Meteorology regarding weather changes and fluctuations.

b. Any delay of the worker, in transit, in employer-provided transportation in the event of a traffic accident or an emergency breakdown.

c. If the parties expressly agree thereon in the contract.

3. Overtime should not be more than two hours in one day

According to Article 19 of the UAE’s Labour Law, an employer can ask an employee to work overtime, provided the number of extra hours does not exceed two hours in one day.

Article 19, clause (1) of the UAE Labour Law
The employer may instruct the worker to work overtime over the normal working hours, provided that the overtime does not exceed two hours per day unless the work is necessary to prevent the occurrence of a serious loss or a serious accident or to eliminate or mitigate the effects thereof. In any case, the total working hours shall not exceed one hundred and forty four hours every three weeks.

4. Overtime pay is 25 to 50 per cent more than basic pay for regular hours

According to – the UAE government’s official information portal, if the nature of the work requires the worker to work beyond the normal working hours, then they will be entitled to pay equal to normal working hours' remuneration, which is based on basic salary, plus 25 per cent of that pay.

It could increase to 50 per cent if the overtime work is done between 10pm and 4am. This rule does not apply to workers who work on basis of shifts.

If you find yourself working on a public holiday or weekend, you are entitled to compensation. Read here to find out more.

5. You may not always be entitled to overtime pay

If your occupation or position in the company falls under certain categories that are listed out as exceptions in the UAE Labour Law, you may not be eligible for overtime pay.

Clause (4) of Article 15 in Cabinet Resolution No. (1) of 2022 explains that depending on the worker’s occupation type or seniority of the position within the company, overtime pay may not apply. As per the clause, the following categories shall be exempt from the provisions relating to the maximum working hours:

Position at work:

a. The chairpersons and members of the boards of directors.

b. The persons occupying supervisory positions, if such positions vest in them the powers of the employer.

Occupation type:

c. The crews of naval vessels and the seafarers who enjoy special service conditions due to the nature of their work.

d. Those engaged in work, which is required by reasons of technical nature to be carried on continuously by a succession shift, subject to the condition that the average working hours do not exceed 56 hours per week.