Changes and developments in maternity leave in the UAE

Know your rights!

Maternity leave is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. With laws changing and different companies publicly announcing new policies. It is vital that everyone knows what to expect and what their rights are.

What is the current law in the UAE?

Currently the law in the UAE requires employers to provide employees with a minimum of 45 days maternity cover, and they have the option to provide employees with an additional 100 days unpaid cover. If you work in the DIFC then things are a little better with 65 days maternity leave, 33 days full pay and 32 days half pay. However, this is dependent on how long you have worked at your company.

As an employee it is vital for you to sit down and research what maternity leave you are entitled to.

The UAE is striving to ensure equality for women and gender balance in the workplace. The ruler of Dubai H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has even announced a goal for the UAE to become one of the leaders in gender equality by 2021.

Why is maternity leave so important?

The Ministry of Labour realises the importance of maternity leave. Many women may end up quitting their jobs to have a longer recovery time rather than take the 45 days. People do think that 6 weeks really isn’t long enough for a person to recover after the stress of childbirth, the early days are also essential bonding time between a mother and child.

Having a comprehensive maternity leave will help to progress and reinstate the importance of having women in the workplace. It is refreshing to see a government openly and confidently discussing this topic.

So what is changing in the UAE?

There have been many changes in the government sector of the UAE, and this has had a trickle down effect into the private sector. Hopefully we will see more and more developments in the future.

In the Abu Dhabi government the maternity leave has been extended from 45 days to 3 months, and women will be entitled to 2 hours leave every day for the first year after their baby is born. New fathers will also be able to take 3 days paternity leave. This move is highly popular and shows a great deal of development with regards to women’s equality in the work place and also the recognition of the importance for fathers to spend time with their new children.

In the UAE this is a positive first step and hopefully will be replicated throughout the rest of the Emirates.

We are also seeing some companies following suit in Dubai with some companies doubling the amount of leave for women from 45 days to 100 days, this is going above and beyond what is required under the UAE labour law. Making Dubai a far more attractive place for families to work and make their home.  

These improvements are incredibly important to employees throughout the UAE and are only the first steps. The UAE is dedicated and currently in conversation to see how they can improve the workplace for women and in turn for everyone.