The Midday Break rule, which protects workers from labouring under direct sunlight between 12.30pm and 3pm, will start today (Thursday 15th June) and continues until 15th September.
Eighteen inspection teams have been tasked by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to monitor compliance levels with the midday break rule across the country using a smart inspection system.
Maher Al Obaid, assistant undersecretary of inspection affairs, said that the inspectors’ monitoring activities began on 7th June to ensure prompt issuance of safety instructions, distribution of awareness leaflets to both employers and labourers, and to warn of the dangers associated with direct exposure to the summer heat.
“Inspectors are scheduled to pay visits two hours prior to the 12.30pm starting point to secure targeted locations as marked by the smart inspection system. The system analyses data, following specific criteria, to prioritise follow-ups accordingly, all to ensure speed and accuracy,” Al Obaid said.
The Ministry is targeting 60,000 inspection visits across the UAE.
“We dedicated three inspection teams in Abu Dhabi, two in Al Ain, four teams in Dubai, two in Sharjah, two in Ajman, two teams in Ras Al Khaimah, two in Fujairah and one team in Umm Al Quwain,” Al Obaid said.
Companies penalised for wrongdoing are welcome to submit an objection letter to the Ministry to raise queries about penalties, thus ensuring complete transparency.
“I am completely confident that we shall note a high level of compliance, similar to that noted in previous years; employers are aware of the rule and the harsh consequences,” he said.
The decision, which has been implemented for 13 consecutive years, aims to prevent any sort of work-related injuries and divides working hours between morning and evening shifts to a total of eight hours daily, with overtime being compensated as per the relevant law.
The Ministry has urged employers to provide all necessary means to protect workers against injuries and illnesses during their working hours and to educate them on keeping safe at the workplace.
Violating companies will be fined Dhs 5,000 per worker up to a maximum of Dhs 50,000 if the case involves a large number of workers. Errant companies can be downgraded and could have their operations temporarily halted.
In exceptional cases where continuous work in the open is required, employers must provide workers with cold water and other items recommended by the country’s health authorities such as salt and lemons. They must also provide first aid, air conditioners and sunshades to such workers.
Work excluded from the break includes work on mixed asphalt poured concrete if it is impossible to carry out the necessary work in one day, or work required to prevent expected danger, reparation, damage, malfunction or loss. Emergency work may include restoring power lines, maintaining the water supply, sewerage issues, putting in place traffic diversions as well as repairing gas pipelines or restoring petroleum pipelines.
Image credit: WAM