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Working Hours and Overtime Regulations

Understand the laws governing work hours and overtime in Bahrain

Standard working hours

In Bahrain, the Bahraini Labour Law outlines the regulations governing standard working hours. The maximum ordinary working hours are 48 hours per week, at a rate of 8 hours per day.

There are exceptions and extensions to these standard hours. Working hours may be extended to a maximum of 11 hours per day, including breaks, under specific circumstances. However, this extension requires justification. In exceptional situations involving tasks deemed "discontinuous" by nature, working hours can be increased to 12 hours per day. The Ministry of Labour has the authority to decrease the standard working hours.

During the holy month of Ramadan, daily working hours for Muslim employees are generally reduced to six hours.

It's important to note that employers can offer more favorable working conditions than the minimums set by the Labour Law. This could include shorter workweeks or additional paid time off.


In Bahrain, the Labour Law dictates the rules and compensation for overtime work. An employer can require an employee to work overtime if the circumstances of the work necessitate it. There's no explicit monthly limit on overtime hours in the Labour Law, but employers should ensure working hours remain reasonable and don't lead to employee fatigue.

Employees are entitled to overtime pay for every additional hour worked. The overtime pay rate is calculated as the employee's regular wage plus a minimum increase: 25% for each additional hour worked during the day and 50% for each additional hour worked during the night. Night hours are generally defined by ministerial decree and may vary depending on the industry or sector.

Employers can request employees to work on their weekly rest day or public holidays if work circumstances demand it. In such cases, employees have the option to choose between receiving 150% of their regular wage for the day worked, plus overtime pay if applicable, or taking another day off in lieu of the one worked. Employees cannot be forced to work on their rest day for more than two consecutive times without their written consent.

Employers and employees can agree on alternative overtime compensation arrangements, provided they meet or exceed the minimum legal requirements. It's advisable for both parties to have a clear written agreement outlining overtime expectations and compensation to avoid any misunderstandings.

Rest periods and breaks

Bahraini Labour Law guarantees rest periods and breaks for workers to ensure their well-being and productivity. Here's a breakdown of the entitlements:

Mandatory Breaks

  • All workers are entitled to a break of at least 30 minutes after six consecutive hours of work. This break is not considered part of working hours and should be paid.

Breaks for Minors

  • Minors (under 18 years old) have stricter regulations: Their working hours cannot exceed six hours per day. Their workday must be broken by one or more rest intervals totaling at least one hour. These breaks are designed to ensure minors have sufficient rest and meal breaks.

Prayer Breaks

  • While not explicitly mandated by law, Bahrain is a Muslim-majority country, and prayer breaks are generally considered customary. Employers are expected to be reasonable in accommodating prayer breaks within working hours.

Additional Considerations

  • The Labour Law provides a minimum standard. Employers can offer more frequent or longer breaks as part of their employee benefits package.
  • The nature of the work may influence break schedules. For example, jobs requiring sustained concentration might benefit from shorter, more frequent breaks.

Night shift and weekend regulations

In Bahrain, the Labour Law establishes specific regulations for night shift and weekend work, aiming for a balance between operational needs and employee well-being.

Night work is generally defined as work performed between 10 pm and 6 am, with at least three working hours falling within this timeframe. Night shift workers have a shorter workday compared to regular day shifts. The daily working hours for night shifts are limited to a maximum of seven hours. Exceptions exist for continuous production processes or when the employment contract explicitly states night work as a job requirement.

Night work demands additional compensation due to the disruption of sleep patterns and social life. Night shift workers are entitled to an increased wage rate of at least 150% of their regular wage. This includes the base salary and any additional payments directly made by the employer.

Friday and Saturday are the customary weekend days in Bahrain. Employers generally cannot require employees to work on their designated weekly rest days unless exceptional circumstances arise. When working on a rest day becomes necessary, employees are entitled to choose between two options: receiving 150% of their regular wage for the day worked, plus overtime pay if applicable, or taking an alternative day off in lieu of the one worked.

While employers can request weekend work, they cannot force employees to work on their rest day for more than two consecutive times without written consent from the employee.

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