Survey finds vast majority of professionals in UAE work extra hours

by Ray Clancy on June 21, 2016

There has been a lot of anecdotal evidence that expats in the United Arab Emirates are leaving as they find it hard to make ends meet and to cope with long working hours.

Now new research has found that seven out of 10 professional work longer than their contracted hours and 90% of them are not compensated for the extra workload.

The Working Hours Survey UAE from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley also found that 24% of professionals work an extra 10 hours per week and of those working additional hours, 69% feel obligated to do so with 35% stating that it is expected of them.


More than half, 53%, of those working beyond their contracted hours do not feel their productivity is increased as a result of the extra time spent in the office, just 21% of workers are given the opportunity to work from home and 56% believe more flexibility would make their life easier while 49% do not have any flexibility in their working environment.

The survey of 334 professionals included respondents from a wide range of industries including engineering, energy and utilities, and manufacturing, with the largest proportion coming from financial services and the property and construction sector as well as HR and finance.

The vast majority of respondents, some 87%, worked in the private sector and 75% held middle management, senior management or senior leadership roles, including 13% who were in leadership roles such as chief executive officer or chief finance officer.

Despite the high numbers of respondents with finance and HR jobs, which are traditionally viewed as desk based, the survey found that opportunities for flexible working are limited, with just 21% stating they are able to work from home.

Morgan McKinley’s findings starkly contrast with a YouGov survey carried out last year where 70% of UAE workers said they were given the opportunity to work remotely. Of those who did work remotely, 37% revealed that they spent most of the week working outside the office.

It seems to be the norm for UAE professionals to work beyond their contracted hours since just 27% of respondents stated that they generally work the hours they are contracted to. Nearly a fifth, 18%, of respondents admitted that they are always too busy to take their lunch break.

The report points out that the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in the workplace is still in its infancy but these advances are likely to lead to the automation of the basic, day to day functions of some job roles.

“So it will be interesting to see how these developments affect the findings of future working hours surveys in the UAE,” the report concludes.

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