Paid parental leave rights introduced in UAE

Out-Law News | 01 Sep 2020 | 9:33 am | 1 min. read

Employees of business operating in the UAE are now entitled to five working days in paid parental leave in the six months following the birth of their children following a change in the law.

News agency WAM reported on 30 August that the amendments to UAE's federal labour law had been approved by UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

With the new law the UAE becomes the first Arab country to grant parental leave to all employees in the onshore private sector and this new law will be applicable to all private sector employers based in the onshore, mainland area and employers based in free zones which follow the Federal Labour Law – i.e. all UAE free zones other than the Dubai International Financial Centre and Abu Dhabi Global Market free zones.

The law will impact a huge number of companies and employees and should bring positive change to working parents and company policies on family benefits, according to Middle East employment law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law. The new law will expand on the family leave entitlements which are already applicable within the UAE. 

Private sector female employees are currently entitled to 45 calendar days paid maternity leave, while government or public sector employees are currently entitled to 90 calendar days paid maternity leave in the case of female employees and three days paternity leave for male employees.

In both the DIFC free zone and ADGM free zone, employees are currently entitled to 65 working days paid leave in the case of female employees, and five working days paid paternity leave for male employees.

The new entitlement to five days parental leave therefore creates some consistency between the onshore position and the position within the DIFC and ADGM free zones.

Tapp said: "This is excellent news and progress for all affected parties. The UAE is one of the most forward-thinking jurisdictions in relation to equality and employment benefits and the introduction of parental leave in this manner is an important and significant development. The UAE government has made the development of workplace equality a priority over the past couple of years and this is an example of meaningful legislation which will help the authorities to achieve that objective."

"We have many international and regional clients which already provide some form of paternity leave to their employees within the region, but this type of development will give more credibility and consistency to those policies across the different sectors. This new law will support families in achieving a better balance at home, which will in turn assist companies in achieving a better level of equality in the workplace. Therefore it is a win for families, working parents and companies," he said.