People enjoy the fireworks display at Jumeirah Corniche as they celebrate Eid holidays. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Emiratis who work in the private sector said they would have preferred this year’s three Eid Al Adha holidays to be stitched together with the two-day weekend to give workers a longer holiday stretch to spend downtime with family.

The placement of the three off days from Monday to Wednesday in the middle of the work week and bookended as well with working days on Sunday and Thursday is far less convenient, Emiratis told Gulf News on Wednesday.

Social media forums also drew a large response about splitting the work week for UAE residents.

It would be unfair for Emiratis who want to celebrate the Eid holidays with their family to have less time than those who work in the public sector.”

 - Ahmad N | Emirati working in Abu Dhabi

While some private companies have decided to tie the three Eid Al Adha days to the following weekend, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation told Gulf News that the ministry’s hands were tied because UAE regulations stipulate private sector workers are to be only given three days for this Eid.

Speaking to Gulf News, the official said: “We did not give Thursday off because according to the law, private sector workers are only entitled to three days’ off for Eid Al Adha, and so we cannot give them four days’ off including the Thursday even though this day falls between two holidays. The private sector will go to work on Thursday and will have Friday off as usual, and this is in accordance with the law. Regarding banks, they will receive four days’ holiday because their regulations come from the Central Bank.

EditorialParity in UAE holidays across sectors deserves attention

“All private sector workers are entitled to holidays for occasions throughout the year including New Year’s Day, the Islamic New Year, the Prophet’s (pbuh) birthday, Isra Wal Miraj, the two Eids, Martyrs Day and National Day,” the official added.

To encourage Emiratis to work in private companies, the respective ministries should consider making equal holidays for all employees in both the government and private sector, nationals said.

Emiratis speak

“It would be unfair for Emiratis who want to celebrate the Eid holidays with their family to have less time than those who work in the public sector,” said Ahmad N., an Emirati working in Abu Dhabi.

“This is also one of the reasons why many Emiratis prefer to work in the public sector and why they find the private sector to be less appealing,” he said.

I have never worked in the government sector, but when my friends get more holidays than me, I start wanting to move there.”

 - Nasser Mohammad | Relationship manager

“The holidays should be the same, so if it is two days for the public sector, then it should be two days for the private sector as well. Many Emirati business owners in the private sector also want to give their Emirati employees extra days’ off but they cannot because it is against the law and would also be unfair for their non-Emirati employees who might complain, and so they don’t have a choice.”

Echoing a similar opinion, Nasser Mohammad, a 24-year-old working as a relationships manager in a private sector company, said most Emiratis would agree to have a unified holiday for all.

“I never worked in the government sector before but when my friends get holidays more than me, I start wanting to move to the government sector. They are getting less working hours and more holidays,” he said.

Though this Eid holiday is an exception for Mohammad, since his company has decided to give the employees Sunday off, he still missed out on leisure activities organised by his friends and family on previous holidays.

“I still remember when my family had an extended holiday in the past and I couldn’t travel with them because my holiday was shorter. There was also another trip I planned with my friends one time that got cancelled because I also didn’t have the same number of off days like them.”

Amnah H., 25, working as a social media executive in a private company, said she is unhappy about the fact that she will have an interrupted holiday, where she will have to come back to work on Thursday.

“I was hoping that the holiday would be extended to Thursday because the thought about coming back on Thursday is already bothering me,” she said.

Amnah said her siblings, who work in the government sector, will get more days off and are planning to travel to Europe.

“I believe the only way to get Emiratis to stay longer in the private sector is to ensure they get the same benefits as those working in the government.”