Dubai: The mandatory midday break for labourers, who work in the sun during the summer months, will start on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Labour.

The break starts after the ministry’s decision that companies will have to give a two-and-a-half-hour break from 12.30pm to 3pm to labourers who work in open areas such as construction sites.

Maher Al Owaid, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Labour for inspection affairs, said yesterday at a press conference held at the ministry that the daily working hours must not exceed eight hours in the morning or night shifts, and overtime should be paid to those working additional hours.

“Our inspectors will follow up all companies and those found breaking the midday break rules or employing worker not on their sponsorship will face penalty by the ministry as per the labour laws,” he said.

“According to the ministry’s decision the labourers must not work at all during the mandatory break time if they usually work outside in the sun. But companies working on emergency projects can continue work without the need to apply to the ministry to become exempt from the midday ban.”

Al Owaid said that establishments doing works on projects that must continue for technical reasons are exempted from the ban. Such projects include repairing damaged water pipes, petrol pipes, sewage pipes or on the disconnection of electrical lines or other emergency works.

“This also includes those working on projects licensed from governmental departments which could affect the movement of traffic if the work should stop for few hours, or also that which could effect electrical, water supplies or etisalat, in addition to companies doing technical work are exempted and can continue work without interruption during the period of banned hours and workers can perform work under the sun and outdoors,” he said.

He said the businesses excluded from banned working hours include work on mix asphalt poured concretes if it is impossible to implement or supplemented the necessary work in one day or doing work to prevent expected danger or reparation or damage or malfunction or loss and also emergency work, including cutting lines, water supply, sewerage, electricity and cut-off traffic or blocking public roads in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum.

Employers are also instructed to provide a shaded area for workers to rest in during the midday break and employers must provide adequate preventive methods to protect workers from work-related injuries.

Companies found breaking the midday break rule will be slapped with fines. There will be a fine of Dh15,000 for the first offence and the employer will have to pay Dh1,500 for each employee who is forced to work and they will not be able to employ new workers or issue new labour cards for a period of three months. Repeat offenders will face the same fine but will have hiring privileges revoked for longer periods.