Published On: November 22nd, 2022 / Last Updated: November 14th, 2022 / 3.4 min read /

Understanding new changes in the UAE labor law regarding leaves

The Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratization (“MOHRE”) has announced an overhaul to the labor laws in the UAE.  The law is designed to enhance employment rights and boost the competitiveness of the UAE as a place to live and work, helping the region to attract and retain world-class talent.

Study Leave

Current Law:  No entitlement.

New Law: An employee, who is studying in one of the UAE’s certified educational institutions is entitled to a paid leave of 10 days per year to sit for examinations. To apply for this leave, one must have completed at least two years of service with the employer.

Compassionate Leave / Bereavement Leave

Current Law:  No entitlement.

New Law: An employee of the private sector is entitled to:

  • a paid leave of five days in the event of the death of a spouse and
  • a paid leave of three days in the event of the death of a parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

Maternity Leave

Current Law:  Female employees with over one year’s service were entitled to maternity leave of 45 days, paid at the employee’s usual rate of pay. A further period of 100 days unpaid leave was available to employees suffering from an illness related to pregnancy or delivery.

New Law: Maternity leaves entitlement has been increased to:

  • 45 days at 100% pay; plus
  • 15 days at 50% pay.
  • An additional 45 days’ unpaid leave is available where the employee suffers from a pregnancy-related illness,
  • There is now no minimum qualifying service requirement.
  • If the baby is sick or suffers from a disability, the female worker may take
    • additional leaves of 30 days fully paid.
    • This leave can be extended for additional 30 days without pay.
    • The illness or disability of the child must be proved via a medical certificate issued by the respective medical authority.

Parental Leave

Employees of the private sector are entitled to a parental leave of 5 working days from the day of the birth of their child to six months. Parental leave is a paid leave that can be applied for by both mother and father of the baby.

It was introduced after the late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then President of the UAE, approved the amendments to the Labor Law in August 2020.

Annual Leave

Current Law:

Employees were entitled to a minimum annual leave of:

  • two days per month during the first year of employment; and
  • 30 calendar days from the second year of employment
  • Employees were entitled to carry forward or be paid in lieu of any unused annual leave at the end of the holiday year.
  • When employees were on vacation, annual leave was paid on Basic Salary and housing allowance.

New Law:

  • Basic annual leave entitlement remains the same.
  • Employees no longer have the automatic right to carry forward unused annual leave to the next holiday year. Any carry forward or payment in lieu can only be made with the agreement of the employer. Payment in lieu of holidays on termination is at the rate of basic salary only.
  • When employees were on vacation, annual leave was paid on full salary basis. ( As per article 29)


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