Eid: A guide for UAE and KSA private sector employers

Employment Update

By:

With the upcoming festival of Eid Al-Adha, employers in the region need to be mindful of  the requirements around holidays, whilst also managing employee expectations and balancing the needs of the business. This article provides guidance for private sector employers in the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on three frequently asked questions in relation to the upcoming Eid holiday and other public holidays.

The official Eid dates are based on lunar sightings and so they vary each year.  In the UAE the Ministry of Labour has declared Wednesday, September 23rd to Friday, September 25th as an official paid holiday for all workers in the private sector to celebrate Eid Al-Adha.  In the KSA it has been announced that, for the private sector, Eid Al-Adha will start on Thursday, September 24 until Saturday 26th September. Arafat day in the KSA is on the 23 September.

Generally, employees in the public sector are entitled to more generous holidays than the private sector.

Frequently asked questions:

What public holidays do employers have to provide employees?

UAE - Employees in the private sector in the UAE are currently entitled to the following public holidays:

  • New Hijiri Year - 1 Day
  • New Year's Day - 1 Day
  • Eid Al-Fitr - 2 Days 
  • Eid Al-Adha and Arafat Day - 3 Days
  • Prophet Mohammad's Birthday Anniversary - 1 Day 
  • Isra and Mi'raj - 1 Day 
  • National Day - 1 Day 

With the exception of New Year's Day and National Day, public holidays are scheduled according to the Islamic calendar, meaning their exact dates may not be known until they are announced (often at short notice) by the Ministry of Labour.

Earlier this year, 'Martyrs' Day' was reported as a new public holiday for the UAE on 30 November.   The Royal Decree in respect of this holiday has not yet been published in the Official Gazette and we will update you when we have any more information on this holiday.

KSA - Employees in the private sector in KSA are currently entitled to the following public holidays:

  • Eid Al-Fitr - 3 Days 
  • National Day - 1 Day
  • Eid Al-Adha and Arafat Day - 4 Days

The Eid holidays are scheduled according to the Islamic calendar, meaning their exact dates may not be known until they are announced (often at short notice) by the Ministry of Labor.

Can I require an employee to work on a public holiday? If so, is the employee entitled to time off in lieu / financial compensation?

UAE - Yes, you can require an employee to work on a public holiday, although employers should bear in mind of the religious significance of some of the holidays.

Where you require an employee to work on a public holiday, you must provide that employee in respect of the days worked with either:

  1. compensatory leave (i.e. time off in lieu) together with a bonus equal to 50 per cent of his/her remuneration; or
  2. a bonus equal to 150 per cent of his/ her remuneration.

Senior and managerial employees are also entitled to overtime if they are required to work on a public holiday.

KSA - Yes, you can require an employee to work on a public holiday although employers should bear in mind of the religious significance of some of the holidays.

Employers should be aware that under the Saudi Labour Law all hours worked during Eid holidays are considered overtime hours.  Employees working during this time are therefore entitled to being paid for each hour, the  hourly wage plus 50 per cent of the basic wage.

Do employers have to give compensation or time off in lieu when a public holiday falls on the weekend?

UAE - No, when a public holiday falls on the weekend (or any other non-working day) an employee is not entitled to compensation or time off in lieu.   In practice, some companies do offer time off in lieu where a public holidays falls on the weekend but this is entirely discretionary.

KSA - No, employers are not obliged to extend the holiday when it falls on the weekend.  Most employers do choose to offer days off in lieu, but it is entirely at their discretion.