Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Happy Holidays - Maybe

Once again we have a major national holiday coming up (or already upon us if you happen to work for the Government). And once again we have the scenario of the public sector having five days' holiday, while the private sector only gets two. But one of those days is a Thursday, which for many people is a half- or full-day holiday, and the other is Friday, which is a holiday for everyone. In such a situation you would expect that days off would be given in lieu, but:

The labour law does not provide for a compensatory day off for an official holiday, which falls on a weekly day off, according to a legal consultant at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

I believe that announcements by the Ministry of Labour regarding holidays for the private sector are for guidance only. Enlightened companies can, and probably will, give their employees compensatory time off, but it seems that most companies in the Emirates are not enlightened. The idea that Eid Al Fitr, one of the major celebrations of the Islamic calendar, can just take place on a normal two-day weekend , is quite appalling. This Eid also coincides with the end of the Hindu Diwali.

Three things.

1) Every time there is a major holiday, the Ministry of Labour announces how much time off the public and private sectors will get. The public sector always gets at least twice what the private sector gets. Why is that? How is it justified? How do they expect locals to clamour for private sector jobs when the public sector is made so much more attractive?

2) These announcements are usually only made one or two days before the event. Why can't these guys plan a year ahead so that businesses can integrate the holidays into their schedules?

3) There is an urgent need for the labour law to be amended so that holidays falling on normal days off (weekends) have to be compensated by other days off.