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Legal Corner: Working Hours in Ramadan

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DMCC Employment FAQs

DMCC has recently launched new guidelines on employment, which are based on common queries we regularly receive from member companies and their employees. The guidelines follow a Q&A format and are designed to assist both employers and employees with understanding their rights and obligations in the DMCC Free Zone. It covers key legal issues such as the employment contract and probationary period, annual and other leave entitlements, termination of employment, and working hours.

With Ramadan approaching, we have summarised key principles in relation to regular working hours, as well as the changes to working hours that occur during the holy month.


What are the regular maximum working hours?

The UAE labour law places limits on the number of hours employees may work on a daily and weekly basis. Working hours may not exceed eight hours per day, equating to 48 hours per week for a six day working week, or 40 hours per week for a five day working week. In the case of commercial establishments, hotels, restaurants, watchmen and similar operations, working hours may be increased to nine hours per day.

Employees are entitled to a break of at least one hour for rest, food or prayer for each five consecutive hours worked. Both this break and the commute to work are excluded from calculation of working hours.


What are the limits on overtime hours and what is the remuneration for the additional hours worked?

Employees may be required to work overtime above their normal working hours. Overtime may not exceed two (2) hours per day unless work is necessary to prevent substantial loss, serious accident or to eliminate or alleviate both; in practice these are high thresholds to meet.

For any hours of overtime worked, an employee is entitled to receive their usual remuneration plus an increase of at least 25% of the remuneration, unless the overtime is worked between 9:00pm and 4:00am, in which case an employee is entitled to receive their usual remuneration plus an increase of at least 50% of the remuneration.

Overtime pay is not applicable to a small group of very senior employees holding responsible senior posts in management or supervision where those employees have the authority of employer over employees.


How are regular working hours adjusted during Ramadan?

During Ramadan there is a two hour reduction in working hours per day. Accordingly, during Ramadan working hours may not exceed six hours per day equating to 36 hours per week for a six day working week, or 30 hours per week for a five day working week.

This reduction in working hours applies to all employees including both Muslim and non-Muslim employees and whether or not the employee is fasting. Employees remain entitled to their usual remuneration and there should not be any reduction to remuneration during Ramadan.

Employees may work overtime during Ramadan subject to the usual overtime provisions in relation to hours and remuneration as described above. While overtime of up to two hours a day during Ramadan would take an employee back up to the maximum eight working hours a day applicable outside of Ramadan, the employee would be entitled to receive overtime pay at the rates noted above for those additional hours worked.


DMCC Employment FAQs contains further details on working hours, along with in-depth information on a wide variety of other commonly raised questions on employment.

Download the DMCC Employment FAQs document

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