Are domestic employees such as nannies and housekeepers entitled to reduced working hours over Ramadan?
While it was announced on April 10 2021 by the Minister of Human Resources & Emiratisation that all private-sector workers in the UAE will have two hours less of work during Ramadan, many parents may still find themselves working longer hours. Will they still be able to rely on their nannies to help with childcare if this is the case? Gulf News spoke to the employment and incentives team at law firm Al Tamimi & Company for clarification.
Are nannies (or other domestic employees) entitled to Ramadan hours, even if they are not fasting?
“The provisions of the UAE Labour Law (which applies throughout the UAE, except for those working within the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”)), specifically states that it does not apply to domestic staff working in private residences,” says Kristina Broci, Associate, Employment & Incentives at Al Tamimi.
“The UAE Domestic Labour Law (Federal Law No. 10 of 2017) came into force in 2017 and applies to service work occupations, including nannies and other domestic staff. Whilst there are certain similarities, the rights for domestic workers under the UAE Domestic Labour Law are different to the rights of an employee under the UAE Labour Law. Specifically, there is no reference to a reduction of working hours during the month of Ramadan and therefore, in principle, nannies and other domestic staff are not entitled to such a right.”
What if a domestic employee is fasting during Ramadan – should they have reduced working hours in this instance?
“No, there is no reference in the UAE Domestic Labour Law to state that nannies (or other domestic staff) are entitled to a reduction of working hours during the month of Ramadan,” says Broci. “That being said, you would expect that a reduction in working hours during the month of Ramadan would apply to all Muslims who observe the fast (irrespective of their occupation) but insofar as nannies are concerned, there is no legal obligation to do so.”
What are Ramadan hours for domestic employees?
“As noted, under the UAE Domestic Labour Law, there is no statutory reduction in working hours on account of Ramadan,” says Broci. “There is also no reference to the maximum number of working hours, however, it is stated that domestic employees are entitled to 12 hours of rest per day (including 8 hours’ consecutive rest) and one day of paid rest per week. There is no provision in the legislation that during the month of Ramadan, the working hours and/or rest periods shall differ.”
What are Ramadan hours for private and public sector employees?
“Under the UAE Labour Law, working hours must not exceed eight hours per day or 48 hours per week, over a six-day week. During the month of Ramadan, working hours are reduced by two hours per day. Therefore, the maximum working hours for an employee working onshore in the UAE during Ramadan are six hours per day or 36 hours per week (based upon a six day working week) or 30 hours per week (based upon a 5 day working week). The reduction in working hours applies to all employees in the private sector (excluding the DIFC and ADGM) irrespective of whether or not they are Muslim or fasting.
“The DIFC and ADGM have their own employment regulations and therefore different rules apply in these free zones. In the DIFC, reduced Ramadan hours are only applicable to Muslim employees, while in the ADGM, reduced Ramadan hours are only applicable to Muslim employees who observe the fast. An employee who is fasting can nevertheless voluntarily choose to work more than six hours per day.
“The official working hours for the public sector are ordinarily from 9am-2pm during the month of Ramadan.”
Are all private sector employees entitled to Ramadan hours, whether or not they are fasting?
“Irrespective of whether or not an employee is fasting, the reduction in working hours applies to all employees in the private sector (excluding the DIFC and ADGM). In the DIFC, reduced Ramadan hours are only applicable to Muslim employees, while in the ADGM, reduced Ramadan hours are only applicable to Muslim employees who observe the fast.”
If a private-sector employer is not allowing an employee to have Ramadan hours, is there anything they can do?
“A breach of the UAE Labour Law can result in a fine of between Dh3,000 to Dh10,000 and potentially sanctions being brought against the company’s general manager, unless s/he can prove they were unaware of the violation,” says Broci and the employment team at Al Tamimi & Company. “Accordingly, it would be open to an employee to file a complaint with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (or the relevant free zone authority depending upon where the employing company is incorporated) should the provisions of the UAE Labour Law be breached.
“In the DIFC and ADGM, there are anti-discrimination provisions under the DIFC Employment Law and ADGM Employment Regulations respectively, which prevent discrimination against an employee on certain protected characteristic, including religion. Requiring Muslim employees to work in excess of the Ramadan working hours, may be considered as indirect discrimination and could give rise to potential claims before the DIFC or ADGM Courts (as applicable).”