Middle East

How the new working week in the United Arab Emirates can become a workforce game changer

The UAE’s recent announcement of a new labor law has benefited everyone.

Twelve different permits will be available in the future, giving employees the choice of six different working models. The effect is to add a higher level of flexibility to workers and businesses, which will certainly benefit the economy and the wider society.

Just a few weeks after the transition from Monday to Friday to weekdays, some public sector entities are working at noon on Friday, preserving their existing salaries and income. And there must be a problem now: is it time to think about working four days a week around the world?

Are 4 better than 5?
Complementing the new labor law is also a new and shorter working week. No other country in the world has a formal weekly labor policy less than the well-known five-day grind. But for the health and productivity of workers and the economy, there is no reason why countries should not switch, and should not switch immediately.

Labor shortages remain a problem in many countries. One way to solve that is to create more jobs in less time. The unattractive demands on pre-Covid-19 work contribute to the massive labor shortages experienced, especially in the United States and around the world. – – Some call it mass layoffs. Short weekly working hours can bring these people back into the workforce.

There is a very strong business case for shorter working weeks as people have more energy to be productive and efficient. Studies show that when people work four days a week, they become more productive, and by hiring a lot of four-day work a week, companies can hire additional workers to fill vacant time slots. I can do it. This could close the gap due to Covid-19-related unemployment and the resignation of people and counter the projected increase in unemployment due to task automation in multiple sectors over the next few years. May be useful for. There are other benefits, such as opening up space for domestic travel, enabling ongoing education, and promoting personal rejuvenation.

This explains why in Japan authorities are encouraging employers to accept four-day work week to improve the balance between work and life. Spain recently launched a three-year trial of 32 hours of work per week. And between 2015 and 2019, Iceland conducted the world’s largest pilot of a four-day working week and found that productivity was the same or improved. As a result, 86% of Icelanders have less workforce today than they did before the survey.

In the case of the UAE, the reduction of work was aimed at “improving performance to make the UAE economically competitive” and improving work-life balance and social welfare. However, there are other benefits as well. Homogenization with weekends in many other countries, including Indonesia and other Muslim-dominated economies, will create new business ease for financial transactions and better access to the global market. The UAE will also step further into the so-called “Talent Wars,” a highly competitive employment market.

Also, because salaries do not go down, vacations allow employees to spend time on education, travel, friends and family.

The key to success in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere is to make sure that the results are not compressed work weeks. It has been tried before and has dire consequences. In 2011, the Governor of Utah in the United States required state officials to work 10 hours a day, four days a week. The goal was to reduce costs, but what happened was a sharp decline in public services, with no measurable productivity gains. France, on the other hand, has been working 35 hours a week since 2000. However, in reality, many employees work longer hours, but with overtime pay. French policy does not increase the balance between work and life and leisure, so they are also considering working 32 hours, 4 days a week.

Reducing weekly working hours does not, by itself, make employees healthy and happy. Additional action by employers and regulatory agencies is required. A boss who has to be a better manager and allocate the right resources can’t do that alone. In many countries, the right to cut to protect overloaded employees has been enacted, as evidenced by the recent adoption of legislation in Portugal to protect remote workers on weekends. It has been.

Implementation also requires changes in the functions of society. Families need to adapt to new school schedules for their children, but the leisure and services industry needs to coordinate their offerings. In the United Arab Emirates, we need to work on how to spend time on Friday (Holy Day of Islam), and employers need to be flexible to those who practice the faith. Importantly, the new UAE labor policy allows private sector employers to implement flexible working hours and telecommuting options on Friday, but how to regulate this is an open question. is.

What is clear is that in the United Arab Emirates, as in other places, Covid-19 is overturning our way of working. Issuing new labor laws and shortening working weeks, as after the Industrial Revolution made production more efficient, is the type of bold move needed to adapt to the post-covid world. Balancing life and work can be a never-ending struggle for workers in developed countries. But as the UAE has demonstrated, governments can innovate to ease the burden.

Nancy W. Gleason is an associate professor of practice and political science and director of the Hillary Baron Center for Education and Learning Excellence at New York University Abu Dhabi.

https://gulfbusiness.com/how-the-uaes-new-workweek-can-be-a-game-changer-for-its-workforce/ How the new working week in the United Arab Emirates can become a workforce game changer

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