UAE News Today : Politics

Maternity leave in the UAE: public and private sector


The arrival of a new life is a notable milestone that has a profound impact on future parents. This important event is filled with a mix of excitement and anticipation as you prepare to embark on the transformative journey of parenthood.

And for working mothers-to-be, it also raises important debates around maternity leave.

Like other nations, the UAE government has implemented maternity leave regulations designed to support new mothers on their path to recovery, bonding with their newborns and assuming their roles as caregivers.

Maternity leave is not just a benefit; It is a legal necessity that safeguards the well-being of both mothers and their babies, as well as the family unit as a whole.

This article aims to shed light on the complexities of maternity leave in the UAE, ensuring that expectant mothers and their families can navigate this crucial phase with confidence and clarity.

Maternity leave provisions in the private sector

In 2021, the UAE introduced Federal Decree-Law No. 33, which introduced significant changes to labor relations, including regulations on maternity and paternity leave for private sector employees in Article 30.

  • Workers have the right to a 60-day maternity leave, structured as follows:
    to. The initial 45 days with full salary.
    b. The next 15 days with half pay.
  • After maternity leave, if a worker or her child becomes ill due to pregnancy or childbirth, she may be absent from work for up to 45 days, continuously or intermittently, without receiving any salary. The illness must be justified by a medical certificate from a healthcare provider. Importantly, this period of absence does not count towards your total length of service, which affects your end-of-service benefits or retirement plan contributions, in accordance with relevant legislation.
  • A worker is entitled to the maternity leave described in subsection (1) of this article if her birth occurs at least six months after pregnancy, regardless of whether the fetus was stillborn or was born alive but subsequently died.
  • In the event that a worker gives birth to a child with a serious illness or with specific needs, requiring constant care, as confirmed by a medical report, she is entitled to a 30-day leave with full pay. This leave begins immediately after the end of your maternity leave, with the option to extend it for an additional 30 days without pay.
  • Employers are obliged to grant maternity leave at the request of the worker, starting on the last day of the month preceding the expected month of childbirth. This request must be supported by a certificate issued by a medical entity.
  • It is essential to keep in mind that taking maternity leave or being absent from work as established in this article does not affect the worker’s right to access other types of leave.
  • In cases where a worker works with another employer during her period of leave authorized under this article, her original employer reserves the right to withhold her salary for the duration of the leave or request reimbursement of payments made.

Maternity leave provisions in the public sector

Maternity leave policies vary between different emirates and government entities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Below is a simplified breakdown of maternity leave regulations in various regions and government sectors in the UAE:

Maternity leave in the federal government (across the UAE)

In the UAE Federal Government, maternity leave is governed by Article 53 of Federal Decree Law No. 11 of 2008, which was later amended by Federal Decree Laws No. 9 of 2011 and No. 17 of 2016. These The key provisions are:

  • Employees in permanent positions are entitled to a generous three-month maternity leave with full pay. This extended furlough period reflects the government’s commitment to supporting working mothers during this important time.
  • After maternity leave, employees have the option of reducing their working hours by two hours a day for four months to facilitate breastfeeding their children. Importantly, these reduced hours are paid in full, recognizing the importance of breastfeeding for child health.
  • In particular, maternity leave cannot be combined with unpaid leave, ensuring that employees receive compensation for the entire period of their maternity leave.

Maternity leave in Abu Dhabi

In Abu Dhabi, maternity leave policies are generally in line with federal regulations, but provide additional details:

  • Female employees in Abu Dhabi are entitled to three months of fully paid maternity leave.
  • After returning to work, new mothers are entitled to two hours of leave per day for the first year after giving birth. This time allows them to breastfeed their children and is considered part of their employment, ensuring they receive full pay during these nursing hours.
  • Male employees are granted three days of paid paternity leave, allowing them to support their partners during the early stages of fatherhood.

Maternity leave in Dubai government

The Government of Dubai regulates maternity leave through Decree No. 14 of 2017. Here are the key provisions:

  • Dubai Government employees are granted a longer maternity leave period of 90 days from the date of delivery. Importantly, they have the flexibility to request maternity leave up to 30 days before the expected delivery date.
  • Additionally, annual leave and unpaid leave can be added to maternity leave, bringing the maximum total number of days to 120. This flexibility allows employees to customize their leave to their needs and circumstances.
  • For one year after birth, mothers can opt for 2 hours of reduced work each day, either at the beginning or end of the workday. However, there is no break for breastfeeding during the month of Ramadan.
  • If an employee gives birth to a child with special needs, she is entitled to childcare leave from the end of maternity leave until the baby is one year old.

Maternity Leave in Sharjah Government

In the Sharjah government, maternity leave underwent significant changes with the issuance of a local decree in 2016. Below is a detailed description:

  • Sharjah Government employees are entitled to a total maternity leave period of 120 days. This comprehensive leave consists of 90 days of paid leave and an additional 30 days of unpaid leave, allowing for an extended period of time off to care for a newborn.
  • The decree also allows the inclusion of annual vacations along with maternity leave. This flexibility means that new mothers can combine their maternity leave with any accrued annual leave, providing them with an extended period of paid time off to bond with their child and ensure their well-being.
  • Recognizing the importance of breastfeeding for children’s health, the decree grants new mothers two hours a day to breastfeed their children. This breastfeeding allowance is available for six months after giving birth, ensuring that mothers can provide their children with the essential care and food they need during their early stages of life.

Maternity Leave in Ras Al Khaimah Government

The Ras Al Khaimah government also made significant improvements to its maternity leave policies, improving support for working mothers and their families:

  • As of November 2016, maternity leave in Ras Al Khaimah Government was extended to a generous 90 days of paid leave, providing mothers with enough time to care for their newborns and adapt to the demands of the maternity.
  • Most notably, in 2015, the breastfeeding period for mothers was extended to a full year from the birth of the baby. This extended breastfeeding period recognizes the importance of breastfeeding for infant health and ensures that mothers have the time needed to provide this critical care to their babies during the first year.

Maternity leave policies in the UAE reflect the country’s commitment to supporting working parents and fostering family values. These policies vary between the public and private sectors and between different emirates, and the federal government provides extensive maternity leave to its employees.

In August 2020, a major milestone was achieved when His Highness the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, then President of the United Arab Emirates, approved amendments to the Labor Law, introducing a parental leave policy in the private sector.

These policies reflect the UAE’s dedication to fostering a supportive environment for its workforce, emphasizing the importance of family life alongside professional commitments. The introduction of parental leave represents an important step forward in improving the quality of life of working parents in the UAE and sets an admirable example for the region as a whole.

Also read:

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