UAE to Narrow Gap In Holidays, Working Conditions of Public, Private Sectors


Labor Minister Saqr Ghobash addressing the workshop hosted by the Labor ministry.
Labor Minister Saqr Ghobash addressing the workshop hosted by the Labor ministry.

DUBAI, Nov 15 — The difference in working hours and holidays between the public and private sectors will be reduced as part of a plan to make non-Government jobs more accessible to Emiratis. Saqr Ghobash, the Minister of Labor, said that changes to the law should be in place by the end of the year, reported The National.

The move is part of the ministry’s three-year “strategic plan for a policy for national labor” that will prioritize citizens. The plan will be in effect from next year. Ghobash was at a workshop organized by the Ministry of Labor for public and private sector companies and the media. He said the meeting was in line with the ministry’s aim to partner with government institutions to ensure integration and improve cooperation with the private sector.

“In this way we will be effective contributors in its advancement since it [the private sector] is the driver of economic development and is the strategic choice to enhance opportunities and challenges of employing nationals in the workforce,” Ghobash said.

“The strategic vision of the Ministry of Labor is a road map for the regulation of the labor market for the next three years. “This is in line with the federal Government plan and the Emirates 2021 plan and especially in terms of creating a diversified knowledge-based economy led by skilled Emiratis.” Humaid bin Dimas Al Suwaidi, assistant undersecretary for labor affairs, said the priority of the 2014-16 plan was to improve flexibility in the market, attract competence and increase productivity.

Details of the plan, which was devised from numerous workshops over the past few months to analyze the challenges ahead, will be placed on the ministry’s website. Suggestions and proposals from the business community are welcomed. Ghobash said that in line with directives from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, necessary amendments to the law would bridge the gap between the public and private sectors in terms of working hours, working days, annual leave and public holidays.

He said he hoped the proposed amendments would be prepared by the end of the year. Sheikh Mansour said in February during a Government Summit in Dubai that private-sector weekends and public holidays would be brought in line with the public sector.

The existing law grants a day a week of rest for private-sector workers, while government staff get two days off. The ministry estimates that the public sector receives 15 public holidays and 104 weekend days a year – 119 days off – but the private sector has just 10 public holidays and 52 weekend days, amounting to 62 days off.

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