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UAE’s banking sector realigning its working hours

Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Societe Generale SA are changing to a Saturday-Sunday weekend

Private companies are free to choose their own working week The UAE has taken measures to make its economy more attractive to foreign investment The New Labor Law applies to companies wholly or partly owned by the federal or local government

Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Societe Generale SA are changing to a Saturday-Sunday weekend starting the New Year in the UAE which is aligning with the working week of most global markets.

Bloomberg News was the first to report about these banks switching their schedules, a move that came days after the country announced on December 7 that it would shift to a four-and-a-half working week with a Saturday-Sunday weekend starting January 2022.

Private companies are free to choose their own working week, but private sector holidays are now the same as those in the public sector.

Monday, January 3, will be the first day back to work in 2022 after a New Year weekend, the UAE government has reminded the public.

Much of the country, including federal and local government as well as schools, will move to a Monday to Friday working week, with Friday as a half day.

Although many private-sector employers have yet to formally make the shift, most are expected to do so by January.

Over the past year, the UAE has taken measures to make its economy more attractive to foreign investment and talent at a time of growing economic rivalry with Saudi Arabia.

Insights into the new labor law

The long-awaited Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on Regulation of Labor Relations (the “New Labor Law”) is among a number of new legal developments introduced recently in the UAE. Over the course of the last few weeks, we have also seen significant changes to the Data Protection and e-Transactions Laws, and of course, the change to the UAE weekend which has attracted significant attention worldwide.

The New Labor Law, which will come into force on February 2, 2022, is applicable to employers and employees in the UAE’s private sector. This includes companies incorporated in the UAE mainland and regulated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (“MoHRE”) as well as companies in the free zones (except for those based in the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)). The New Labor Law also applies to companies wholly or partly owned by the federal or local government unless their establishing laws state otherwise.

Comparative changes between the New Labor Law and the older one can be found here.  

At the moment, the new working week and weekend apply to the public sector only. The private sector is not required to align their working week with the public sector (although it has been encouraged by the UAE authorities).

Private sector companies have the flexibility to determine their working days/hours (in compliance with the minimum requirements of the New Labor Law). Under the New Labor Law, employees are entitled to at least one day off per week and this off day does not necessarily need to be on a Friday.