File picture of workers during their midday break in UAE. Some professions and jobs are exempted from the midday break for technical reasons that require work to continue uninterrupted. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Starting on Wednesday, workers at construction sites across the UAE will get a 2.5-hour midday break every day for the next three months. The midday break runs daily from 12.30pm to 3pm, June 15 to September 15.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) is implementing the midday break for the 18th consecutive year, in line with the ministry’s continued commitment to occupational health and safety, which aims to provide a safe working environment for workers and spare them the risks of exposure to high temperatures during the summer months.

Report violations

The Ministry said it receives reports from community members about any violation of the midday break through its call centre number 600590000, operational Monday to Saturday, 8am to 8pm in several languages, in addition to receiving reports through the ministry’s smart app.

Who is exempt?

Some professions and jobs are exempted from the midday break for technical reasons that require work to continue uninterrupted. These include project works such as spreading the asphalt mixture or pouring concrete or other work necessary to ward off danger, repair, damage, malfunctions or accidental emergency losses, including work to repair obstruction in water supply lines, sewage lines, electric lines, or obstruction of traffic on public roads, and gas or oil pipelines.

It also excludes works whose implementation requires a permit from a competent government agency due to their impact on the flow of traffic and services, such as cutting off electricity and telecom lines.

What employers must provide

In the event of works or tasks that for technical reasons should continue without interruption during the afternoon hours, the employer shall provide cold drinking water commensurate with the number of workers on duty, and the conditions of safety and public health should be maintained by providing hydrating food and liquid such as salt, lemon and other foodstuffs that are approved for use by the local authorities in the country.

In addition, companies should keep provisions for first-aid at the work site, appropriate industrial cooling facilities and shades from direct sunlight, and providing a shaded place for workers to rest during their downtime.

Employers are also required to post the schedule of daily working hours in a prominent place in accordance with the provisions of the ban, provided that it is in a language that the worker understands, in addition to Arabic.

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Dh50,000 fine

An administrative fine will be imposed on establishments that violate the noon work ban amounting to Dh5,000 for each worker and a maximum of Dh50,000 in the case that multiple workers are working in violation of the ban.