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UAE law: Can you be compelled to work during Eid?

Khaleej Times logo Khaleej Times 09/05/2021 Ashish Mehta
a close up of a logo: UAE law: Can you be compelled to work during Eid? © Provided by Khaleej Times UAE law: Can you be compelled to work during Eid?

Question: I work in a company in Dubai. According to the UAE government's official announcement, private sector employees will get four or five days of holidays for Eid Al Fitr. However, my boss has just informed us that some of us would need to work. Is this legal? Can we be compelled to work on official holidays? Can I complain?

Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed in a mainland by a private company based in the emirate of Dubai. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 Regulating Employment Relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law') are applicable.

It should be noted that the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (the 'MOHRE') on May 4, 2021, announced four days of public holidays if Ramadan duration is 29 days or five days if Ramadan duration is 30 days.

The official holidays as per Islamic calendar is from the 29th day of Ramadan until the 3rd day of Shawwal of the Hijri year 1442. Based on this notification, you are entitled to four or five days holidays based on the last day of Ramadan.

Further, it should be noted that the Article 74 of the Employment Law states that the employees are entitled to two days of public holidays on account of Eid Al Fitr. However, the latest notification of the MOHRE will supersede Article 74 of the Employment Law in context of Eid Al Fitr holidays.

In respect of the public holidays, the Employment Law prescribes that the employees shall be entitled to leave with full pay for the said holidays. And where, owing to circumstances of work, employees are required to work on such days, they shall be entitled to receive compensatory leave on some other day and further receive additional compensation.

This is in accordance with Article 81 of the Employment Law, which states: "If exigencies of work necessitate that the employee work on holidays or rest days against which he receives full or partial pay he shall be compensated in lieu thereof with increase in pay by 50 per cent of his salary, but if he has not been compensated for the same with a leave, the employer shall pay him an increase to his basic salary equivalent to 150 per cent of the days of work."

In the event your employer does not grant you holidays for Eid Al Fitr without paying you additional salary, as mentioned in the aforementioned provision of law for making you work during the public holidays, then you may approach the MOHRE and file a complaint against your employer.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: news@khaleejtimes.com or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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