08/18/2009 11:20 PM
Dubai: About 80 per cent of companies caught violating the midday break rule, which stipulates a halt on all outdoor work from 12.30pm to 3pm during July and August, have not paid their fines, Ministry of Labour statistics revealed Tuesday.
Of the 553 transgressors, 465 have yet to pay up, meaning that only Dh880,000 of the Dh5.53 million due has been collected by the ministry.
Companies that do not comply with the rule face fines of Dh30,000 and can be banned from obtaining work permits for up to one year. So far this year, no company has been caught violating the rule more than once.
The ministry does not increase the fines of companies that fail to pay within the stipulated period. However, transgressors can be downgraded from category A (compliant employers) to categories B and C. Companies in category C cannot apply for work visas. The ban on applying for visas is only lifted six months after the fines are paid.
About 360 companies have been downgraded to category C and another 193 have been prohibited from applying for work permits for six months, according to the statistics.
Eisa Al Zarouni, head of the inspection department at the ministry, told Gulf News that although fines are costly for companies, the threat of being downgraded or prevented from applying for work permits is a more effective deterrent.
"Being downgraded can cost a company more money as the fees for the different ministry services, such as the issuing of work permits and labour cards, are greater for companies in category C than other companies. So a company can sometimes end up paying thousands of dirhams more for services as a result of being downgraded," said Al Zarouni.
Last year 398 companies were caught violating the midday break rule, but this year there have been 553 violations as of Sunday. One reason for this is the increased number of inspections, officials say.