Workers laying a road. The midday break rule, being enforced for the 12th year, prevents any work under direct sunlight between 12.30 and 3pm for three months. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A mandatory midday break for labourers during the summer months will start from June 15 and end on September 15, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation announced on Wednesday.

The decision by the ministry for the 12th year in a row prevents any work under direct sunlight between 12.30pm and 3pm for three months.

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.

Saqr Ghobash, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, said working hours will be divided into two shifts, morning and evening, with a total of eight hours daily. Compensation must be provided to workers who exceed the working hours and are required to do overtime.

Employers are required to provide a clear schedule to inform workers of their daily working hours during the midday break period. They must also provide them with shelter for the break.

The minister declared the order is based on general health and safety procedures that the UAE adopts according to international standards and aimed at preventing work-related injuries.

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.

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.

Works 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.

“We will start by visiting the establishments in the morning and meeting the supervisors to provide them with advice. After 12pm our group of inspectors will start visiting sites and if any violations are found they will be registered and reported. There will be no more advice,” an inspector told Gulf News.

Last year when over 65,000 inspections of establishments were carried out, 99.9 per cent adhered to the rules, which was about 58 violations. In 2012, a similar number of inspections resulted in 166 violations.

Around 10,000 of the 2015 inspections were carried out in Abu Dhabi, 7,288 in Al Ain, almost 18,000 in Dubai, 7,006 in Sharjah, 5,529 in Ajman, 3,167 in Umm Al Quwain, 7,115 in Ras Al Khaimah, and 7,756 in Fujairah.