How Does Maternity Leave Work in the UAE?
It’s hard not to feel frustrated by the laws that pertain to maternity or paternity leave in the UAE. Changes have been slow or even nonexistent, which can make things difficult for new families. Today, the UAE still maintains one of the shortest maternity leaves in the world, far below what the International Labour Organization (ILO) suggests is a reasonable paid leave time (just up to 14 weeks).
This article will go over what these rules are, and what needs to be done before maternity leave can take place.
The letter of the law
Here is what you can expect from maternity leave in the UAE. This applies to all public or government sector workers.
From Article 30 of the countries Labour Laws:
- Women are entitled to 45 calendar days of maternity leave, fully paid
- These days include both pre and post natal periods
- Women must have worked with an employer for a year to receive these benefits. If the period is less than this, then only half pay is required by the employer
- Women can follow maternity leave with a period of 100 days of unpaid time off, although this must be due to some form of illness that stops her from working
- Three working days of paternity leave are also available
The rules are slightly different under DIFC Private Sector laws. Here, a woman receives 45 days of fully-paid time off, with an additional 45 days of half-pay. DIFC laws require that an individual must:
- Be employed for 12 months with the current employer
- Notify the employer no less than 8 weeks before she expects to deliver the child
- Request a medical practitioner’s certificate with the expected birth date from her doctor, to be turned into the employer
- Notify the employer no less than 21 days before she expects to start maternity leave
- Men are not entitled to any paternity leave unless it is specified by the employer
Recently the Sharjah Executive Council (SEC) has moved to allow non-Emirate citizens up to 60 days of maternity leave. A paternity leave of 3 days was also granted under this new law. While this is a step in the right direction, it is still below the standards set by the ILO.
Should a miscarriage occur, both the husband and wife are no longer entitled to these or any other breaks, unless they choose to request a standard sick leave.
What to expect when you return to work
Article 31 of the UAE’s Labour Laws says that women may nurse their child twice a day for half an hour for up to a year and a half after the child is born. No pay decrease may occur from nursing during this period, and no documentation is required to attain these breaks. This time period however includes the time it takes to return home to nurse the child. In most cases this makes it difficult if not impossible for a woman to successfully utilize this law effectively.
What to expect in the future
The UAE has shown promise in making necessary changes to maternity and paternity leave. While it’s easy to become frustrated over current laws, it’s also important to note that in regards to the region itself, the UAE is progressing quite rapidly. We expect to see good things come out of this area of the law in the near future.