The UAE is moving to a 4.5-day week to 'boost productivity and improve work-life balance'

·2 min read
burj khalifa
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE.Google Maps
  • The UAE is moving federal employees to a four-and-a-half day working week from January 1, 2022.

  • Their new weekend will run from Friday 12 p.m. until Sunday night, the government said.

  • The change will "boost productivity and improve work life balance," it said.

The United Arab Emirates is moving federal employees to a four-and-a-half day work week to "boost productivity and improve work-life balance," the government announced Tuesday.

From January 1, 2022, the weekend will start at 12 p.m. local time on Friday and run until Sunday night, the government said. The current weekend runs from Thursday night to Saturday night.

The move would ensure "longer weekends to boost productivity and improve work life balance," the UAE Media Office tweeted.

The new working day will be 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday, the government said.

It is unclear if companies in the private sector are to follow suit in this new working week.

Many Muslim-majority countries, such as Saudi Arabia, operate a Sunday-to-Thursday week so that Friday prayers can be observed.

The new weekend structure would help the UAE align with other global powers on trade, the government said.

In a statement, the government said it would "ensure smooth financial, trade and economic transactions with countries that follow a Saturday-Sunday weekend, facilitating stronger international business links and opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies."

Some experts and business leaders believe that a shorter working week can lead to increased productivity and quality of life for employees.

A number of companies have migrated to a four-day work weeks, such as the UK's Atom Bank, but few countries have followed suit.

Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden have announced pilot four-day work week schemes and the trials in New Zealand, Iceland, and Japan showed that employee wellbeing improved and productivity rose under the new conditions.

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