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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Summer midday break has been a cool idea from the start

First introduced in 2004, both labourers and doctors alike praise the break for outdoor workers, which results in significantly less heat exhaustion cases.

The midday break was first introduced in 2004 as a way to provide hard-working labourers with some respite from the blistering summer sun.

The break, which sees outdoor workers down tools from 12.30pm to 3pm each day during the summer, has been well received by both labourers and doctors, who say it has led to a significant decline in the number of heat exhaustion cases.

In 2010, the break was extended from two months to three. Before then it lasted for the months of July and August but that changed to starting on June 15 and ending on September 15 each year.

Each year, the Ministry of Labour conducts inspections at companies across the country to ensure they are abiding by the rule. The ministry has about 18 inspection teams that conduct 60,000 field visits each summer to check on compliance. In addition, they make about 20,000 educational visits to ensure labourers are aware of their rights, distributing leaflets in 10 languages.

If a company is found to be in breach, first-time offenders are fined Dh15,000 and are downgraded to category C for at least three months, making them ineligible for work permits for at least six months.

Those caught out a second time are also fined Dh15,000 and cannot obtain work permits for nine months, while third-time offenders are fined Dh20,000 and cannot get work permits for a year.

However, compliance is high. In 2014, for example, only 147 companies were found to have breached the midday break law. A total of 77,522 facilities passed the inspection, meaning 99.69 per cent of companies were in compliance.

The ministry encourages people to report any breaches by calling 800 665 or by using its smartphone app.