Summer working hours in the GCC

by DLA Piper
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With summer now upon us and the temperature and humidity continuing to rise, the annual summer time working hours restrictions will soon be implemented in the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, having already taken effect in the remaining GCC countries. The aim of the summer time working hours is to protect the health and safety of employees. Employers must not force their employees to carry out any sort of work under direct sunlight during the dates and hours stated below.

Employers face severe penalties if they are found by the Labour inspectors to be breaching the summer time working hours restrictions. Penalties include fines, a ban on obtaining new work permits and, in severe cases, a closure of the establishment.

Summer time working hours

We set out below the dates and summer time working hours that apply for each GCC country as well as the implementing Ministerial Resolution.

Country Dates during which the restriction is in effect  Hours during which the restriction is in place  Ministerial Decision 
Bahrain  1 July 2014 to 31 August 2014 12.00 pm to 4.00 pm Article 1 of Ministerial Resolution No. 3 of 2013
Kuwait 1 June 2014 to 31 August 2014 11.00 am to 4.00 pm Ministerial Resolution No. 189/L of 20120 as amended by Ministerial Resolution No. 212/L of 2012
Oman 1 June 2014 to 31 August 2014 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm Article 16/3-3 of Ministerial Resolution No. 286/2008 as amended by Ministerial Resolution No. 322/2011
Qatar 15 June 2014 to 15 September 2014 11.30 am to 3.00 pm Ministerial Resolution No. 16 of 2007
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 15 June 2014 to 15 September 2014 12.00 pm to 3.00 pm Ministerial Resolution No. 3337 dated 14/05/2014
United Arab Emirates 15 June 2014 to 15 September 2014 12.30 pm to 3.00 pm The Ministerial Decision for 2014 has not yet been issued by the Ministry of Labour and the information contained in this article is based on the reported announcement of the Ministry of Labour and our discussions with Ministry of Labour.

Additional requirements

In addition to prohibiting employers from forcing employees to carry out work under direct sunlight, some of the GCC countries have their own additional requirements regarding employers' responsibilities. We summarise these requirements below.

Bahrain
The employer should display in a visible place the summer time working hours which can be easily seen by staff and inspectors.

Kuwait
N/A

Oman
The employer should ensure that:

  • there is cool drinking water available (commensurate to the number of employees)
  • shaded area is provided during rest breaks
  • first aid tools are provided 
  • water for washing and other uses is provided and that the water is covered to keep the water cool
  • an air conditioned bus is available near the work site, and
  • the employer complies with any other conditions that the Ministry may require.

Qatar


The employer should display in a visible place the summer time working hours which can be easily seen by staff and inspectors.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
N/A

United Arab Emirates
Employees must be provided with a shaded area during rest breaks.
Employers must display in a prominent location the daily working hours in Arabic and any other language that is understood to employees.
Employers must provide appropriate protective equipment to avoid occupation injuries and disease, in accordance with the provisions of the UAE Labour Law.

Exceptions

Some GCC countries have implemented limited exceptions to the summer time working hours and the additional requirements set out in the applicable Ministerial Resolution. We summarised these exceptions below:

  • Bahrain and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - Those workers that work for oil and gas companies as well as maintenance workers who are required for emergencies, are excluded
  • Qatar - Those workers that work for oil and gas companies are excluded, and
  • United Arab Emirates - Work that must be non-stop for technical reasons is exempt from the rest period provided that employees have cold drinking water; rehydration sachets, lemons and any other substances approved by the health authorities; cold drinking water; first aid; artificial refrigeration; and protective shade against direct sunlight.

Please speak to a member of the Employment team if you want to confirm whether your employees are exempt from the summer time working hours requirements.

Penalties for non-compliance

Finally, severe penalties can apply for those employers that do not comply with the summer time working hours and provisions set out in the applicable Ministerial Resolution. The penalties are summarised below:

Bahrain
Penalties are the same penalties as those included in the Bahrain Labour Law, which are:

  • imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months, and
  • a fine not less than 500 Dinars and not more than 1000 Dinars
  • or any one of the two sanctions above. 

Kuwait
Penalties are the same as those included in the Labour Law of Kuwait, which are:

  • the employer shall be given a notice to rectify the contravention within the period specified provided that it shall not be more than three months
  • if the contravention is not rectified or remedied within the prescribed period, the violation shall be punished by a penalty of not less than KD 100 and not more than KD 200 for every labourer against whom the penalty is committed, and 
  • in the event of a repetition of non-compliance/breach within three years from the date of final judgement, the penalty shall be doubled. 

Oman


Inspectors in charge of monitoring safety and health of employees shall be authorized to take the following procedures:

  • issue the necessary orders to rectify violations within a specific period of time, or
  • the immediate stoppage of work partially or totally, and seeking the assistance of the Royal Oman Police if necessary.

Qatar


A work location can be closed by a Ministerial decision for a period not exceeding 1 month.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Penalties include:

  • a penalty of between Saudi Riyals 3,000 Saudi Riyals 10,000, or
  • closing the company for a period of not more than 30 days, or 
  • final closure of the company, or 
  • fine for the company and closure of the company.

United Arab Emirates


Penalties include:

  • a fine of AED 15,000 per breach and the employer will also have to pay AED 1500 for each employee forced to work
  • the employer will not be allowed to apply for new work permits for a period of three months and repeat offences will result in a ban for a longer period of time, and 
  • the relevant inspector shall file a statement of the violation and the number of employees working in contravention of the midday break in order to look into the reclassification of the employer company. 

Practical steps for employers

What should an employer do to ensure compliance with the summer time working hours requirements?

  • Review the procedures you have in place for employees working outdoors during the summer months ensuring that you comply with the minimum requirements set out above. Consider whether any additional precautions may be needed to protect employees working in high temperatures
  • Consider whether additional resourcing is required to complete projects on time bearing in mind the summer working hours restrictions and that Ramadan is also upon us, and 
  • Speak to a member of the Employment team if you want to confirm whether you are exempt from the summer time working hours requirements.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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