Did you know that the UAE is the first nation in the world to officially introduce a national working week shorter than the global five-day week?
On 7 December 2021, the UAE announced a major labor reform as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social wellbeing, while increasing performance to advance the UAE’s economic competitiveness. Once again, the UAE sets itself as a pioneering country with impressive working system that will enable the UAE to rapidly respond to emerging changes and enhance economic and social wellbeing in the workplace.
Accordingly, the UAE’s federal government is in transition to a 4.5 working week and a Saturday to Sunday weekend effective from 1 January 2022.
What is included in the UAE’s new labour reform?
- The new working system implemented in all federal entities
- Working days are Monday to Thursday from 7:30am to 3:30pm
- Working hours are set at 8 hours per day
- Working hours on Friday are limited to 4.5 hours from 7:30am to 12:00pm
- Friday sermons and prayers to be held after 1:15pm all year long in UAE
- Employees would be offered flexible working hours and work-from-home options on Friday
- Schools and universities across the UAE will follow the new four-and-a-half-day working week
Sharjah New Working System
On 9 December 2021, Sharjah took a step further in line with the UAE vision to enhance its competitive position by extending the weekend for Sharjah federal entities to three full days and cutting the working week to four days only.
The UAE Central Bank has also announced in a circular (Circular) to banks that all banks operating in the country must open their branches to provide services to the public for at least five hours a day and for a period of six days, including Fridays. The Circular also stated that banks in the UAE have the discretion to determine the working hours and work of the administration and back offices as needed and to implement the shift system for the branches in accordance with the laws in force in the country.
Working hours in Ramadan are subject to the notifications of the Central Bank in this regard.
These new instructions will be put into effect as of January 2, 2022 and all clients must be notified about them.
Private Sector in the UAE
The UAE did not oblige the private sector to follow the same footsteps by readjusting their employee working hours. UAE Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Abdulrahman al-Awar, urged private sector companies to adopt the new shorter work week to be implemented by the public sector at the beginning of 2022, and amend internal operations to ensure employees are guaranteed adjusted benefits.