UAE private sector supportive of changed UAE public sector work week

Ahead of the new work week for the UAE public sector that will start from January 1, 2022, Mercer Middle East launched a New UAE Work Weekend Survey to ascertain the private sector response, which showed that the majority of the over 190 firms that responded are embracing the shift to the Saturday and Sunday weekend model, regardless of industry.

The Survey, which received 97% of responses from the private sector, shows that the majority of firms (57%) have a preference to adopt the new UAE weekend model, and an average satisfaction score of 3.8 out of 5, showcasing robust support for and alignment to the vision of the government of the UAE. However, the private sector is reluctant to follow the 4.5 day working week, with only 23% of respondents likely to adopt a half-day work policy on Fridays, with the overwhelming majority set to amend the weekend model to align to their operating models, workforce composition and industrial needs, with the majority of those following a Saturday-Sunday weekend operating on a hybrid basis and a workforce composing of a mix of Office and Field workers.  

Ted Raffoul, Mercer’s Career and Workforce Products Business Leader, MENA, stated: “Employers in the UAE must continue to offer staff flexibility, particularly for parents given that schools will operate a half-day on Friday, and to accommodate religious needs. Offering staff the choice to work from home, or to work flexible days and or hours, will support talent attraction and retention. Overall, the shift to the new working weekend in the UAE has strong support from the private sector, but the companies that will thrive as employers of choice will be those that continue to stay attuned to the needs of their diverse workforces.”

The shift in the working week is favorably received as the survey findings show that 84% of firms believe that the new weekend will have a positive impact on transacting internationally, bringing benefit to business outside of the region. However, 37% of firms are unsure of the impact of the new weekend on business activities within the Middle East. This uncertainty is marked by the fact that less than 40% of respondents stated that they believe the change in weekend will have a positive impact on transacting within the Middle East.

Across Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, the majority of firms will adopt the Saturday-Sunday weekend model. For the firms that are choosing to fully align to the government’s half day Friday, Saturday-Sunday weekend, there are many considerations with regards to working hours, with two out of three employers stating that working hours will not be increased, nor will remuneration be affected, in order to compensate for the reduced working hours.

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Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s approximately 25,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 78,000 colleagues and annual revenue of over $18 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on LinkedIn and Twitter.