Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Midday break: Dubai delivery riders feel the heat as temperatures rise

Bikers are not covered by the mandatory break but employers say they ensure staff are protected during summer months

Delivery riders are not covered by the midday break for outdoor workers, with some employees feeling they have no choice but to hit the road during the summer. Victor Besa / The National Section: NA
Delivery riders are not covered by the midday break for outdoor workers, with some employees feeling they have no choice but to hit the road during the summer. Victor Besa / The National Section: NA

As people across the UAE gear up for a heatwave, the nation’s delivery riders are preparing for another gruelling summer toiling under the sun.

The midday break for outdoor workers got under way on Saturday, offering valuable respite for labourers and other staff based outdoors until September 15.

Delivery riders, however, are not automatically eligible for the break because the nature of their job requires that they work through lunchtime.

The National spoke to a number of delivery riders in Dubai who felt they had little choice but to continue working during the hottest part of the day if they wanted to be paid.

“It's so difficult having to work in the summer months,” said one Indian rider, who did not want to give his name but works for a well-known delivery company.

“I don’t get a break and the temperatures are so hot. But what choice do I have?

“If we want to get paid we have to keep working, especially during lunchtime."

The 24-year-old said every motorbike delivery rider dreaded having to work during the heat of summer afternoons in the UAE.

He was also critical of the lack of consideration shown towards his safety while he was making deliveries on the road.

“It is just awful, the only protection we are given is the helmets we get and we have to wear the same uniform all year round,” he said.

“You get tired and dizzy when you're riding on the roads in the heat but you have to keep going.

“I need to send money back home to my family in India who are relying on me. I have no choice.”

Another rider who spoke to The National said the high midday temperatures made his job “extremely difficult”.

“The temperatures get so hot that it is really hard to cope but you have to be able to do your job and make those deliveries on time or else,” said the 25-year-old Pakistan national.

“I have a large family back home who are relying on me to send money back home so I don’t have the luxury of saying when I can and can’t work.”

He added his employer allowed him a break of an hour-and-a-half per 10-hour shift.

Food delivery company Deliveroo said it took measures to ensure the safety and comfort of all of its riders.

“Deliveroo riders get a break in the middle of the day as we take this matter seriously,” said a spokesman for the company.

“We are currently working with select restaurant partners to provide free water to our riders to ensure they remain hydrated. In addition, we have supplied our riders with a guide on how to stay hydrated in the summer sun.

“Riders also have specially-designed, breathable kit [uniform]. We’re continuing to explore ways in which we can improve summer working conditions for our fleet.”

The spokesman added that the Deliveroo riders typically get a break lasting between two to four hours, after 1pm.

The UAE's midday break is in operation until September 15, affording outdoor workers relief from searing temperatures from 12.30pm until 3pm. Pawan Singh /The National
The UAE's midday break is in operation until September 15, affording outdoor workers relief from searing temperatures from 12.30pm until 3pm. Pawan Singh /The National

Walid Fakih, general manager of McDonald's in the UAE, oversees a fleet of more than 1,300 riders.

He said the company takes the safety of its drivers very seriously.

“Our system is designed to ensure our drivers spend a minimal amount of time under the sun,” he said.

“Our network of restaurants of over 170 branches allows for them to spend a maximum of 10 minutes driving time to or from one of the restaurants for a delivery.

“Drivers are also given breaks during their shifts, which are alternated between day and night time.”

Mr Fakih said that McDonald’s ensured all its drivers stay hydrated by providing water when they entered a restaurant branch.

There are a number of measures that can be taken to help delivery riders stay safe in the summer heat, according to Road Safety UAE managing director Thomas Edelmann.

“In between delivery jobs, riders should stay in air-conditioned or shaded areas,” he said.

“Summer heat comes with humidity, which might fog-up the windows of cars, reducing your visibility to car drivers and the asphalt might be compromised by the heat – they need to be careful.”

Mr Edelmann said employers must also ensure that delivery riders work shorter hours where possible and provide light, protective clothing.

He also called on the public to show goodwill towards delivery riders during the summer months.

“Motorists in cars and trucks must be extra considerate to motorcycle riders as they are exposed to the heat and still have to wear their protective gear which makes the heat even more unbearable.

"We, the 'receiving' customers should be kind and considerate to the rider who delivers our food,” he said. “Offer a glass of cold water to your delivery rider."

Updated: June 15, 2019 01:21 PM

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