Chapter 4: Working Hours and Leaves

working hours and leaves
  1. The normal working hours for a worker shall not exceed 8 hours per day and 40 hours per week.[1]
  2. The employer may require a worker to perform work for more than normal working hours on one or more days of the week provided that total working hours inclusive of overtime shall not exceed 56 hours per week.[2]
  3. For overtime hours, the worker shall be paid an overtime premium, equivalent to 50% of the hourly wage rate. Similarly, those working during night hours shall be paid a night work premium, equivalent to 15% of the hourly wage rate.[3]
  4. An employer shall give a worker, who works continuously for more than five hours, a paid rest break (for meals, prayer) for at least one continuous hour.[4]
  5. The worker shall be entitled to a weekly rest day of at least twenty-four consecutive hours. The employer shall permit a worker to take the weekly rest entitlement on such a day as is customary or on a different day as agreed between the employer and the worker.[5]
  6. On completion of one year of service with the employer, the worker shall be entitled to three working weeks of annual leave.[6]
  7. A worker shall be entitled to 12 working days of sick leave on full pay per year of continuous service.[7]
  8. A woman worker shall be entitled to 14 weeks of maternity leave.[8]
  9. Night work shall be generally prohibited. However, the employer may engage a worker on night work after obtaining written consent from the worker and take special measures to ensure the health, safety and security of workers who perform night work.[9] The employer shall not require or permit a worker who is under the age of eighteen years to perform night work.[10]
  10. The employer shall ensure that pregnant or breastfeeding women are not obliged to perform work which is determined by the competent authority to be prejudicial to the health of the mother or the child, or where a workplace assessment has established a significant risk to the mother’s health or that of her child.[11]
  11. It shall be unlawful for an employer to terminate the employment of a woman during her pregnancy or absence on leave or during 6 months following her return from leave, except on grounds unrelated to the pregnancy or birth of the child and its consequences or nursing.[12]
  12. Every woman delivered of a child who returns to duty after such delivery shall, in addition to the interval for rest allowed to her, be allowed in the course of her daily work two paid breaks of thirty minutes each, for nursing the child until the child attains the age of twenty-four months. Where daycare facilities are not available at the workplace or in the vicinity, an employer shall reduce the general daily working hours of such worker by one hour.[13]
  13. Every worker shall have right to return to the same position on completion of their statutory leave.[14]

[1] Working hours can be set up in line with the age of workers, i.e., specifying a lower daily threshold for adolescent workers. The Quran declares: Allah does not put under stress any soul more than its endurance. (02:286)

لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا ۝

The Prophet (ﷺ) advised others not to burden workers beyond their capacities. “It is essential to feed the slave, clothe him (properly) and not burden him with work which is beyond his power”. (Sahih Muslim: 1662)

لِلْمَمْلُوكِ طَعَامُهُ وَكِسْوَتُهُ وَلاَ يُكَلَّفُ مِنَ الْعَمَلِ إِلاَّ مَا يُطِيقُ

[2] Working hours should not be excessive. The human body also needs rest, and there are others (family and friends) that have rights over a person (and their time).  “It was narrated that ‘Abdullah said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) entered my apartment and said: “I have been told that you stand all night (in prayer) and fast all day.’ I said: ‘Yes (I do).’ He said: ‘Do not do that. Sleep and stand (in prayer); fast and break your fast. For your eyes have a right over you, your body has a right over you, your body has a right over you, your wife has a right over you, your guest has a right over you, and your friend has a right over you”. (Sunan an-Nasa’i: 2391)

حَدَّثَهُ أَنَّ عَبْدَ اللَّهِ قَالَ دَخَلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حُجْرَتِي فَقَالَ ‏‏ أَلَمْ أُخْبَرْ أَنَّكَ تَقُومُ اللَّيْلَ وَتَصُومُ النَّهَارَ ‏‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ بَلَى ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏‏ فَلاَ تَفْعَلَنَّ نَمْ وَقُمْ وَصُمْ وَأَفْطِرْ فَإِنَّ لِعَيْنِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَإِنَّ لِجَسَدِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَإِنَّ لِزَوْجَتِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَإِنَّ لِضَيْفِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا وَإِنَّ لِصَدِيقِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا

A similar hadith is narrated in Tirmidhi: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) made a bond of brotherhood between Salman and Abu Ad-Darda. Salman went to visit Abu Ad-Darda and saw Umm Ad-Darda wearing shabby clothes, so he said: ‘Why are you wearing such shabby clothes?’ She said: ‘Your brother Abu Ad-Darda has no interest in the world’. So, when Abu Ad-Darda arrived, he prepared some food for him (Salman) and said: ‘Eat, for I am fasting.’ He said: ‘I shall not eat until you eat”. He said: “So he ate. When night came, Abu Ad-Darda started to leave and stand (in prayer), but Salman said to him: ‘Sleep.’ So, he slept. Then he went to stand (in prayer), but he said to him: ‘Sleep’. So, he slept. When the morning (Fajr) came, Salman said: ‘Get up now.’ So, he got up to perform Salat. Then he (Salman) said: ‘Indeed yourself has a right upon you, your Lord has a right upon you, your guest has a right upon you, and your family has a right upon you. So, give each the right they are due. The Prophet (ﷺ), and that was mentioned to him, so he said: ‘Salman has told the truth”. (Jami` at-Tirmidhi: 2413)


[3] The Prophet (ﷺ) instructed employers to share the burden when workers are assigned difficult work and help workers. This support could either be in terms of time-off or paying a monetary premium or both. “They (your servants and slaves) are your brothers. Allah has put them in your care, so feed them with what you eat, clothe them with what you wear. And do not burden them beyond their capacities; but if you burden them (with an unbearable burden), then help them (by sharing their extra burden)”. (Sahih Muslim 1661 a)

إِخْوَانُكُمْ جَعَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ تَحْتَ أَيْدِيكُمْ فَأَطْعِمُوهُمْ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ وَأَلْبِسُوهُمْ مِمَّا تَلْبَسُونَ وَلاَ تُكَلِّفُوهُمْ مَا يَغْلِبُهُمْ فَإِنْ كَلَّفْتُمُوهُمْ فَأَعِينُوهُمْ

In another instance, the Prophet (ﷺ) instructed the employers to help their workers. As indicated above, this could be in the form of a premium pay or time-off. “Your slaves are your brothers, so be kind to them. Ask their help with what is too hard for you and help them with what is too hard for them”.
(Adab al Mufrad: 190)

أَرِقَّاكُمْ إِخْوَانُكُمْ، فَأَحْسِنُوا إِلَيْهِمْ، اسْتَعِينُوهُمْ عَلَى مَا غَلَبَكُمْ، وَأَعِينُوهُمْ عَلَى مَا غُلِبُوا

[4] As instructed by the Prophet (ﷺ), a person’s body also has certain rights. Hence, the rest breaks, daily rest period after work and weekly rest days are needed. (Sunan an-Nasa’i: 2391)

“Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “O `Abdullah! Have I not been informed that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)!” He said, “Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave them (the fast) at other times; stand up for the prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, and your eyes have a right over you, and your wife has a right over you”. (Sahih al-Bukhari: 5199)

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏‏ يَا عَبْدَ اللَّهِ أَلَمْ أُخْبَرْ أَنَّكَ تَصُومُ النَّهَارَ وَتَقُومُ اللَّيْلَ ‏‏‏.‏ قُلْتُ بَلَى يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏‏ فَلاَ تَفْعَلْ، صُمْ وَأَفْطِرْ، وَقُمْ وَنَمْ، فَإِنَّ لِجَسَدِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا، وَإِنَّ لِعَيْنِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا، وَإِنَّ لِزَوْجِكَ عَلَيْكَ حَقًّا

As instructed in the following verse, prayer breaks and/or rest breaks are permissible, and people are encouraged to go back to work after such breaks.

“O, believers! When on Fridays the call is made for (Jumu’a) Prayer, hasten towards the remembrance of Allah (i.e., the Jumu’a sermon and Prayer) immediately and abandon purchase and sale (i.e., business). That is better for you if you have knowledge. Then after the Prayer is offered, disperse in the land and (then) look for Allah’s bounty (i.e., sustenance). And remember Allah much so that you may attain to prosperity. (62:9-10)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ۝ فَإِذَا قُضِيَتِ الصَّلَاةُ فَانتَشِرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ وَابْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ وَاذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا لَّعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ۝

[5] For different religious groups, different days could be specified. For Jews, such a day could be Saturday. For other religions, similar days can be specified where workers can be granted a weekly rest day.

It is narrated that “A Jew said to his companion: ‘Accompany us to this Prophet.’ So, his companion said: ‘Do not say: “Prophet”. For if he hears you (say that), then he will be pleased.’ So, they went to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to question him about nine clear signs. So he said to them: ‘Do not associate anything with Allah, nor steal, nor commit unlawful intercourse, nor take a life which Allah has made prohibited, except for what is required (in the law), nor hasten to damage the reputation of one of power so that he will be killed, nor practice magic, nor consume Riba, nor falsely accuse the chaste woman, nor turn to flee on the day of the march, and for you Jews particularly, to not violate the Sabbath”. He said: “So they kissed his hands and his feet, and they said: ‘We bear witness that you are a Prophet.’ So he (ﷺ) said: ‘Then what prevents you from following me?’ They said: ‘Because Dawud supplicated to his Lord that his offspring never be devoid of Prophets and we feared that if we follow you, then the Jews will kill us”. (Jami` at-Tirmidhi: 2733)

[6] Workers shall be entitled to paid sick, annual and paid public holidays. Sunan Abi Dawud narrates that “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) stood up, i.e., on the day of Badr, and said: Uthman has gone off on the business of Allah and His Apostle, and I shall take the oath of allegiance on his behalf. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then allotted him a share, but did not do so for anyone else who was absent”.(Sunan Abi Dawud: 2726)

إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَامَ – يَعْنِي يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ – فَقَالَ ‏ ‏ إِنَّ عُثْمَانَ انْطَلَقَ فِي حَاجَةِ اللَّهِ وَحَاجَةِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ وَإِنِّي أُبَايِعُ لَهُ ‏‏ ‏.‏ فَضَرَبَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم بِسَهْمٍ وَلَمْ يَضْرِبْ لأَحَدٍ غَابَ غَيْرُهُ

In another hadith, it is once again clarified that those who are absent from some activity may still be considered when benefits are given if they had some genuine excuse (concept of paid leaves). Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) returned from the expedition of Tabuk, and when he approached Madina, he said, “There are some people in Madina who were with you all the time, you did not travel any portion of the journey nor crossed any valley, but they were with you they (i.e. the people) said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Even though they were at Madina?” He said, “Yes because they were stopped by a genuine excuse”. (Sahih Bukhari: 4423) 

أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَجَعَ مِنْ غَزْوَةِ تَبُوكَ فَدَنَا مِنَ الْمَدِينَةِ فَقَالَ ‏‏ إِنَّ بِالْمَدِينَةِ أَقْوَامًا مَا سِرْتُمْ مَسِيرًا وَلاَ قَطَعْتُمْ وَادِيًا إِلاَّ كَانُوا مَعَكُمْ ‏‏‏‏ قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَهُمْ بِالْمَدِينَةِ قَالَ ‏‏ وَهُمْ بِالْمَدِينَةِ، حَبَسَهُمُ الْعُذْرُ ‏

[7] Similarly, paid sick leave can also be granted to workers who are unable to attend work due to illness. “It was narrated from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “in Madina, there are men who, every time you crossed a valley or travelled a road, they shared with you in the reward. They have been detained by illness”.(Sahih Muslim: 1911 a) 

عَنْ جَابِرٍ، قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: لَقَدْ خَلَّفْتُمْ بِالْمَدِينَةِ رِجَالًا، مَا قَطَعْتُمْ وَادِيًا، وَلَا سَلَكْتُمْ طَرِيقًا، إِلَّا شَرَكُوكُمْ فِي الْأَجْرِ، حَبَسَهُمُ الْمَرَضُ

The Prophet (ﷺ) once said: “When a person falls ill then the reward of those deeds is also recorded for him which he used to perform when he was healthy”.
(Adab al Mufrad: 500) 

مَا مِنْ أَحَدٍ يَمْرَضُ، إِلاَّ كُتِبَ لَهُ مِثْلُ مَا كَانَ يَعْمَلُ وَهُوَ صَحِيحٌ‏

In another instance, the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “When Allah involves a Muslim in bodily [pain then he is credited with a reward for those deeds which he was used to do when he was healthy as long as he is ill”. (Adab al Mufrad: 501) 

مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ ابْتَلاَهُ اللَّهُ فِي جَسَدِهِ إِلاَّ كُتِبَ لَهُ مَا كَانَ يَعْمَلُ فِي صِحَّتِهِ، مَا كَانَ مَرِيضًا

It can be inferred from the above that workers have the right to paid sick leave along with employment protection. Based on their work, they will get sickness benefits for the term of sickness and their employment will remain secure.

[8] Other than maternity leave, workers can also be granted leave for adoption of a child. The Quran refers to the adoption of Maryam (AS) in the following words:

“(O Beloved!) These are the tidings of the unseen which We reveal to you. But (at that time) you were not present with them when they were casting their pens (by way of a draw to determine) which of them should take care of Maryam (Mary). Nor were you with them when they were disputing with one another”. (03:44) 

ذَلِكَ مِنْ أَنْبَاءِ الْغَيْبِ نُوحِيهِ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا كُنْتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يُلْقُونَ أَقْلَامَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ يَكْفُلُ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا كُنْتَ لَدَيْهِمْ إِذْ يَخْتَصِمُونَ ۝

 [9] Working hours can be reduced for workers engaged in night work, hazardous or heavy work. Similarly, working hours can be reduced during the pandemic to protect workers from harm. See the example of reduction in a compulsory duty to protect people from harm:

“And when you travel in the land, there will be no sin on you if you shorten the Prayer (i.e., offer two instead of four mandatory cycles), if you fear that the disbelievers are likely to afflict you with distress. Assuredly, the disbelievers are your open enemies”. (04:101) 

وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَنْ تَقْصُرُوا مِنَ الصَّلَاةِ إِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَنْ يَفْتِنَكُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنَّ الْكَافِرِينَ كَانُوا لَكُمْ عَدُوًّا مُبِينًا۝

Tahajjud (night prayer) has a higher reward (17:79). Keeping that analogy, those who engage in hazardous work including night work must be paid premium wages. The Quran mentions it in the following words: “No doubt rising at night strictly subdues (the ill-commanding self), and makes the tongue deliver straight and clear speech (with the concentration of head and heart)”. (73:06) 

اِنَّ نَاشِئَۃَ الَّیۡلِ ہِیَ اَشَدُّ وَطۡاً وَّ اَقۡوَمُ قِیۡلًا۝

[10] The night is the time for rest; hence night work is generally prohibited except for specific sectors and where it is required to finish some urgent work. “Allah is the One Who has made the night for you to repose in and brightened the day to see; surely, Allah is Bountiful to mankind, but most people do not give thanks”. (40:61) 

اللَّهُ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ لِتَسْكُنُوا فِيهِ وَالنَّهَارَ مُبْصِرًا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَذُو فَضْلٍ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ۝

[11] The Prophet (ﷺ) allowed pregnant and nursing women not to keep fast: “A man from Banu Abdullah ibn Ka’b brethren of Banu Qushayr (not Anas ibn Malik, the well-known Companion), said: A contingent from the cavalry of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) raided us. I reached (for he said went) to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) who was taking his meals. He said: Sit down and take some from this meal of ours. I said: I am fasting, he said: Sit down, I shall tell you about prayer and fasting. Allah has remitted half the prayer to a traveller, and fasting to the traveller, the woman who is suckling an infant and the woman who is pregnant, I swear by Allah, he mentioned both (i.e. suckling and pregnant women) or one of them. I was grieved for not taking the food of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)”. (Sunan Abi Dawud: 2408)

[12] Termination during pregnancy is generally prohibited. However, in the event of economic dismissals, employment termination during pregnancy shall not deprive a worker of the maternity benefit: “And if they are pregnant, keep spending on them till they give birth to the child”. (65:06)

وَاِنۡ كُنَّ اُولَاتِ حَمۡلٍ فَاَنۡفِقُوا عَلَيۡهِنَّ حَتّٰى يَضَعۡنَ حَمۡلَهُنَّ۝

In another instance, the Quran says the following: “Neither the mother nor the father should be harmed for the child”. (02:233)

لَا تُضَارَّ وَالِدَةٌ بِوَلَدِهَا وَلَا مَوْلُودٌ لَهُ ۝

 In view of the above, having a child or exercising a statutory right should not have a negative impact on a worker’s employment and their employment should remain secure during leave (annual, sick, maternity, paternity or parental leave).

In one case of adultery, the Prophet (ﷺ) postponed punishment for nearly two years when the woman (from Ghamid tribe) confessed to the crime. The Prophet (ﷺ) first allowed her to give birth to the child (as she was pregnant), allowed her to nurse the child until she weaned him and then imposed the punishment. The aim was to save the fetus and the child. (Sahih Muslim: 1695 b)

[13] The maximum nursing period is two years. The rule is derived from the verse which allows nursing for two years: “And the mothers shall suckle their infants for two full years. This (injunction) is for him who wants to complete the suckling period”.”. (02:233)

وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ  ۝

[14] The Prophet (ﷺ) once said: “If anyone gets up and goes from a gathering and returns to it then he has more right to his place”. (Sahih Muslim: 2179)

إِذَا قَامَ أَحَدُكُمْ مِنْ مَجْلِسِهِ، ثُمَّ رَجَعَ إِلَيْهِ، فَهُوَ أَحَقُّ بِهِ

 Hence, a worker has the right to return to same job/position on completion of their leave.