x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Firms fined for flouting midday break rule

But inspectors find 99.7% of sites to be obeying the summer midday break law.

Thirty-four firms were fined for flouting the midday break rule in the first two weeks of its introduction, officials said yesterday.

The rule stipulates that until September 15, anyone working under the sun or in open places must be given a break from 12.30pm until 3pm.

In the first fortnight of its implementation, Ministry of Labour inspectors visited 9,533 sites. Almost all - 99.7 per cent - were found to be obeying the law.

No offenders were found in Sharjah or Ajman. But there were 11 firms found violating the rule in Ras al Khaimah and 11 in Fujairah. Penalties for companies that fail to provide adequate breaks start at Dh10,000, in addition to a three-month hiring ban.

Second-time offenders are fined Dh15,000 and barred from hiring for six months. A third offence carries a Dh20,000 fine and a nine-month hiring ban.

Under a decree issued by the Minister of Labour, Saqr Ghobash, employers must provide workers with a shaded rest area during the break.

Anyone working for more than eight hours a day must also be paid overtime, while work hours must be printed in Arabic and other languages, and posted where they are clearly visible to staff and ministry officials.

Some workers in time-sensitive jobs are excluded from the break rules, such as those carrying out emergency infrastructure work.

Those who do work during the break must be provided with cold water and dehydration salts. First aid kits and shaded areas must be available on site.

Work may continue indoors during the midday period, said Saleh Al Jabri, the head of the establishments department at the ministry.