Workers take their midday break at a construction site in Dubai's Burj Khalifa district. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Mandatory midday breaks that ban any work under direct sunlight between 12.30pm and 3pm will start on Wednesday and continue until September 15.

“Eighteen teams from the ministry will monitor the level of compliance throughout the decided period,” said Maher Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspectional Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation.

“A total of 20,000 awareness field visits are planned to be carried out … The teams are ready to carry out 60,000 inspectional visits across the nation to make sure all facilities commit to the law,” Al Obed added.

An internal committee will be ready to receive any grievances and handle these objectively and with complete transparency.

“Ministry inspectors will for the first time deal with the smart inspections system, a new mechanism that would make it easier in terms of monitoring and documenting such violations,” Al Obed added.

The decree, now in its 12th consecutive year, is based on health and safety procedures that the UAE adopts in order to prevent any sort of work-related injuries, in accordance with international standards.

Working hours during the period should be divided into two shifts; morning and evening, eight hours daily. If workers work overtime they must be compensated according to the law.

The ruling requires employers to post a clear schedule informing workers of the daily working hours during the midday break period and provide shelter for them during the resting period.

The ministry has urged employers to provide all necessary means to protect workers against injuries and illnesses during their working hours and to educate them on keeping safe at the workplace.

Violating companies are fined Dh5,000 per worker and a maximum of Dh50,000 if the case involves a large number of workers. The company can be degraded and possibly even temporarily stopped from operating.

In exceptional cases where continuous work is required, employers must provide workers with cold water and other recommended items by the country’s health authorities such as salt and lemon. They must also provide first aid, air-conditioners, sunshades and cold water.

Work excluded from the break include work on mix asphalt poured concrete if it is impossible to implement or supplement the necessary work in one day or doing work to prevent expected danger or reparation or damage or malfunction or loss. Emergency work includes cutting lines, water supply, sewerage, electricity and cutting off traffic or blocking public roads, in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum flow.