How the UAE is taking the lead in flexible working


UAE takes global lead as it moves forward with flexible work environment as federal government moves to four-and-a-half-day workweek from January 1, 2022, according to reports. recruitment experts.

The move should also better position the Emirates as an attractive place for work-life balance among the global talent pool, added recruitment experts.

“The United Arab Emirates is the first country in the world to have a federal mandate for a 4.5-day work week. That’s really a big plus, ”said David Mackenzie, group general manager at recruitment agency Mackenzie Jones.

“The UAE has a low tax threshold, flexible working hours, great weather and a short commute to the workplace that make it more attractive to the global workforce. It will top the charts for promoting a better work-life balance. “

Sharing the same work week as the western world will make the UAE even more attractive not only to the global workforce, but also to entrepreneurs looking to relocate to the region, said Richard Jackson, director of the operation of the recruitment company TASC Outsourcing.

The decision to introduce a shorter working week adds to the attractiveness of the region and will make it easier to promote the region to job applicants as a cosmopolitan, dynamic and forward-thinking place, according to Zahra Clark, manager. by Mena for Tiger Recruitment.

“This move helps to better align the UAE with global markets, making it a more important hub for businesses regionally and globally – a key component in attracting the world’s best talent,” said Arda Atalay , Private Sector Manager at LinkedIn Mena.

Many professionals are looking to make their next big breakthrough in the UAE and the move will make the country even more favorable as a work destination, said Shreyansi Gupta, head of marketing at jobs site

UAE to top rankings to promote better work-life balance

David Mackenzie, Group Managing Director, Mackenzie Jones

According to a study by and Boston Consulting Group, the United Arab Emirates has become the 13th most popular destination for foreigners wishing to work.

The federal government’s new working hours are 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday. Government employees will be able to make arrangements to work from home on Fridays and organize their working hours on a flexible schedule.

Much of the UAE’s private sector is expected to implement the new working hours, according to recruitment experts.

The UAE’s private sector is regulated by the UAE’s labor law, which allows it flexibility, Human Resources and Emiratization Minister Abdulrahman Al Awar told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

“Each company, depending on the industry in which it operates and what is best for its business, can choose which weekend it decides for its employee,” Al Awar told Reuters.

The change “will allow our economy to attract talent … and allow for greater flexibility and better alignment with the global economy,” he added.

It’s an opportunity for the public sector to test the waters, according to Ms. Clark of Tiger Recruitment.

“It is inevitable that the private sector will follow suit, especially with public and private schools changing their week according to the changes; parents will want their work week to be aligned with their children’s school week, ”she added.

The new legislation is expected to support employees, their well-being and their productivity in the workplace.

“This will improve productivity in the long run, but this journey will take time as people will adapt to change and will need to focus on making the most of their time,” said Anjali Samuel, managing partner of the executive search firm. Mindfield Resources.

It’s a journey because new ways of working always have their fair share of bumps before they start to make an impact.

Anjali Samuel, Managing Partner, Mindfield Resources

“It’s a journey because new ways of working always have their fair share of bumps before they start to make an impact. “

The fundamental goal of flexible working and a shorter work week is to improve the quality of life for employees, Jackson said. This has directly and positively improved their productivity in every country and company that has implemented similar legislation, he added.

“Time will tell, but experiences of reduced work weeks in other parts of the world, such as Iceland, suggest that we can not only expect higher productivity, but better well-being as well. of employees, “said Clark.

“We agree with management’s sentiment that productivity improves with flexibility,” said Atalay of LinkedIn. “When employees have the opportunity to take care of their personal lives, they tend to focus more on their designated work hours, thereby improving productivity. “

The new work week is also a sign that flexible working arrangements are here to stay in the UAE.

Flexible working is what employees now expect from their jobs, Ms. Clark said. The hope is that this new working week will encourage even some of the more traditional companies still attached to the 9-6 working day to embrace more flexible working methods, she added.

“We are seeing a huge appetite for flexible working on the part of applicants and companies,” Jackson said. “Many companies are now also using working from home and flexible hours as perks to attract top talent during the current talent crisis. “

International organizations have had flexible working arrangements for years and this has entered the space of regional and local businesses, Ms. Samuel said.

A survey conducted by LinkedIn this year found that more than 80% of UAE employees wanted flexible hours and the ability to work remotely part-time, leading to a wave of new positions at all levels. , according to the professional network.

“Employees working from home felt secure, happier and could spend more time with their families – a key factor in promoting a new model of work,” Mr. Atalay said.

The hope is that this new working week will encourage even some of the most traditional companies in the UAE still committed to the 9-6 working day to embrace more flexible working methods.

Zahra Clark, Mena Manager, Tiger Recruitment

Some recruiting experts, however, have expressed concern that some companies may use the new workweek as a reason to cut staff wages or annual leave.

“The cynical part in me is wondering if some employers might use this as an opportunity to cut wages for those with lower wages despite working longer hours. In theory, I would like to believe that all employers would see this as greater productivity despite reduced working hours, ”said Mackenzie.

In other countries where similar legislation has been implemented, employees have managed to manage their work within a shorter work week and this has not impacted their annual leave, according to Mr. Jackson.

An employee must agree to a pay cut and employers cannot cut wages unilaterally, according to Devanand Mahadeva, director of Bestwins Law Corporation.

“Employers cannot change annual leave either. The UAE labor law gives employees the right to 30 days of annual leave and it does not relate to the number of hours worked, ”he said.

However, employers can increase the number of hours worked on a weekday to cover the four-and-a-half-day work week. Under the labor law, employees can work up to 48 hours a week and Friday must be a public holiday, Mahadeva added.

A four-and-a-half-day week doesn’t necessarily mean longer hours, but it will force people to work smart. That could mean looking at existing processes and practices to see what could be improved and refined to save time, Ms. Clark said.

“Shorter meetings, video calls rather than face-to-face meetings where appropriate – these are just a few of the ways people can make the most of their work time. I expect this to mean less annual leave, but the trade-off is a more balanced lifestyle, ”she added.

Update: December 8, 2021 9:35 a.m.


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