Under the UAE’s new labour law, employees’ commute time will be counted as part of their working hours in some instances.
While Article 17 of the new law, which came into effect in February, stipulates that commuting from an employee’s place of residence to work shall not be counted as part of office hours, the executive regulations provide a few exceptions.
Workers’ commute time will be counted as part of the working hours if:
1. The worker is delayed due to rough weather conditions and in response to warnings issued by the National Centre of Meteorology of possible weather fluctuations.
2. If the worker is commuting in an employer-provided transport that breaks down or gets into an accident.
3. If both employer and employee expressively agree to include commute time within the working hours.
Imran Khan, legal consultant at Bin Eid Advocates and Legal Consultants, said counting commute within working hours is particularly beneficial for low-skilled workers.
“A majority of low-skilled employees spend long hours in transportation, especially when several companies provide labourer accommodation in distant areas to save the cost,” said Khan.
He noted that the amendment serves those driving long distances or spending most of their time on the road due to the nature of their job. “Through this article, employees get their rights for spending time during the commute.”
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Khan said the new law provides an opportunity for both parties in a contractual agreement to determine the suitable work conditions, while having their rights reserved.
Under the law, employees are not allowed to work more than two hours overtime a day, unless work was necessary to prevent a serious damage or accident.
Overall, the total working hours of employees should not exceed 144 hours for every three weeks.