ABU DHABI // Companies who deny labourers their midday break from work may face closure and fines of up to Dh15,000.
Hourly inspections will be carried out, and anyone flouting the law will be dealt with harshly, the Ministry of Labour said on Tuesday.
The midday work ban comes into force on June 15 from 12.30pm to 3pm and ends on September 15.
The ministry also plans awareness campaigns and will distribute brochures in Hindi, Urdu, Nepalese, Bangla, English and Arabic.
Mubarak Al Dhaheri, undersecretary at the ministry, said the move reinforced its commitment to labour rights by ensuring a safe environment for all workers.
“This is one of the most prominent and important initiatives, which handles preventive measures to protect workers from the risks of working under direct sunlight with extreme high temperatures,” said Mr Al Dhaheri.
As well as fines, companies could be temporarily shut down for repeat offences, he said.
During breaks, some Government and private institutions, in partnership with the ministry, also provide free medical examinations for workers.
Mr Al Dhaheri also acknowledged the initiatives by many members of community in distributing cold water and refreshments to labourers.
However, there were some exceptions to the ban – such as emergency construction on power and water lines.
Other exceptional cases required continuous work during break periods for technical reasons, said Mr Al Dhaheri. “But employers are obliged to provide cold drinking water, safety tools and materials, salts, lemon, fresh salads and all necessities that have been approved for use by health authorities in the country,” he said.
The ministry on Tuesday urged business owners to provide shaded areas to workers during their breaks and to completely cease work.
Employers are also required to provide first aid kits.
Maher Al Obed, assistant undersecretary for the inspection department at the ministry, said it would be conducting daily inspections.
“The ministry will record and take pictures of labourers, if they are found working within the banned time, documenting all the proof to the special investigation department to deal with them.”
The break was introduced in 2005 when workers were given time off between 12.30pm and 4pm during July and August.
The following year, this time frame was shortened by an hour but the period extended from two to three months from June 15 to September 15.
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(via The National)