Violators will be fined Dh15,000 if found forcing labourers, regardless of their profession, working under direct sunlight.
The Labour Ministry on Tuesday announced a midday break decision for UAE labourers, which bans all companies from forcing its labourers to carry out any sort of work under direct sunlight between 12:30pm and 3 pm for three months starting June 15 to September 15.
The announcement was made in a press conference held yesterday at the ministry’s Abu Dhabi head quarters by Mubarak Saeed Al-Dhaheri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour, alongside Maher Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary for the Inspection Dept.
Al-Dhaheri said during the conference: “The midday work ban has entered its 10th year now, confirming the ministry’s commitment towards human/labour rights by ensuring them work in a suitable and safe environment. This is considered one of the most prominent and important initiatives which handles preventive measures to protect workers from the risks of working under direct sunlight with extreme high temperatures.”
“The midday break decision has developed many other self-initiatives undertaken by several government and private institutions in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, particularly conducting free medical examinations for workers and offer guidance to protect them against dangers in general. As well as initiatives undertaken by many members of the community by distributing cold water and refreshments to the labourers on duty, which embodies the values of compassion and solidarity in the UAE society,” Al-Dhaheri added.
The decision of the Minister of Labour, urges business owners to provide shaded areas for the workers during their break period and to completely cease work. The decision also refers the owners to adapt to eight daily working hours and compensate labourers working overtime according to the provisions of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980.
For the punishment part, the violators will be fined Dh15,000 if found forcing labourers, regardless of their profession, working under direct sunlight.
It was mentioned that the minister noted down some exceptional cases that require continuation of work during those periods for technical reasons, yet employers are obliged to provide cold drinking water, safety tools and materials, salts, lemon, fresh salads and all necessities that have been approved for use by health authorities in the country.
Employers are also required to provide first aid kits in the workplace and means of appropriate cooling systems and protecting umbrellas from direct sunlight.
“Businesses excluded from banned working hours include work on mix asphalt poured concretes if it is impossible to implement or supplemented the necessary work in one day or doing work to prevent expected danger or reparation or damage or malfunction or loss and also emergency work, including cutting lines, water supply, sewerage, electricity and cut off traffic or blocking public roads in addition to cut gas pipelines or petroleum. It also includes work that requires a permit implementation of the competent governmental authority because of its impact on the flow of traffic and services and so if the condition statement to accomplish the clock and cut itineraries include the main or converted and cut communication lines and power supply and any other works are adopted,” Al-Dhaheri said.
For his part, Mahir Al Obed, Assistant Undersecretary for Inspection Affairs at the Ministry of Labour said: “We formed 18 teams of specialized inspectors to follow up on this particular issue making sure that all companies are following the decision correctly, we will also give random visits as part of our awareness campaigns to publicize the decision and its implications and stress its importance.”
“There will be around 80,000 visits during the midday break period for the next three months, in which 60,000 visit will be inspectional and 20,000 for the awareness campaign,” Al Obad said.
He spoke about the methods the ministry adapts to in dealing with violators, as they will record and take pictures of labourers, if found working within the banned timings, documenting all the proofs to the Special Investigation Dept. to deal with them.