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NAM Associates

UAE’s new weekend laws: all we need to know from schools to private sector.

From January 1 government departments and schools in the UAE will move to a four-and-a-half-day working week.

On Tuesday the government announced one of the biggest changes to the UAE working week in years.

Federal government departments in the UAE will move to a four-and-a-half-day working week from January 1.

Schools announced that they will follow suit.

But what about the private sector?

NAM explains everything you need to know about the new weekend.

What has changed?

The UAE’s weekend, which since 2006 has fallen on Friday and Saturday, will switch to Saturday and Sunday from the new year, bringing it in line with much of the rest of the world.

Employees will work from Monday to Thursday, with a half day on Fridays.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi governments said their employees would adopt the same hours.

Why did the weekend days shift?

The decision “will better align the Emirates with global markets, reflecting the country’s strategic status on the global economic map”, the UAE Government Media Office said.

The new long weekend will “boost productivity and improve work-life balance”.

An additional benefit is a three-day weekend to welcome 2022, with Sunday, January 2, now a public holiday.

What about schools?

They will also change, adopting the same timetable, with pupils attending lessons from Monday to Thursday, with a half day on Friday, a government document confirmed.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai’s private school regulators said all of their schools would operate under the new working week, starting from Monday, January 3.

Times are yet to be confirmed by the authorities.

Will the private sector follow as well?

It is expected to, yes.

Private companies currently have the freedom to set their work days as they wish.

The sector will not be obliged to change its working week in light of the changes announced, a leading minister said.

Dr Abdulrahman Al Awar, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation, has told that the UAE’s new labour laws give private sector employers the flexibility to choose what weekend days “help them to be more competitive and enhance their economic competitiveness and growth”.

Mr Al Awar, however, believes private sector companies will adjust their weekends to Saturday and Sunday.

“They make their decisions based on what they feel will improve their competitive position and they will make wise decisions that suit their companies,” he said.

Analysts said they expect private companies to opt for a Monday-to-Friday week as well, particularly since schools are switching, which could create a headache for parents needing childcare.

What about Friday prayers?

Friday prayers currently begin at dhuhr – between noon and 12.30pm – dependent on the season.

But from January 1, they will permanently move to 1.15pm, to give people enough time to finish work and get to the mosque.

Friday prayers are led with the sermon in the mosque, which will take place at 1.15pm, followed by jumaa prayers.

Friday prayers are considered the most important of the week, and Muslims are encouraged to pray at a mosque in a group.

In a document containing questions and answers issued by the government, authorities said there was no conflict between the Friday prayer timings and the half-day of work.

Source: Khaleej Times