Leave Policy in the UAE Labour Law

Leave policy is crucial for both employers and employees operating within the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In this article, we delve into the diverse spectrum of leave options available under UAE labour laws.

Leave policy from sick leave and maternity leave to annual leave and special circumstances, understanding the nuances of each type of leave empowers individuals and businesses to effectively manage time off while ensuring compliance with legal requirements. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of leave policies in the UAE, providing clarity and guidance for all stakeholders involved.

This article discusses leave policy in the context of UAE Federal labour law. There could be differences in the specific contexts of ADGM labour law or the DIFC labour law.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), annual leave entitlements are governed by the UAE Labour Law, which outlines different types of leave available to employees. Here are the main types of annual leave in the UAE:

  • Annual Leave: Every employee is entitled to annual leave after completing a certain period of service with their employer. As per UAE Labour Law, an employee is entitled to:
    • Two days of leave per month if their service is more than six months but less than one year.
    • Thirty days of leave per year if their service exceeds one year.
  • Sick Leave: Employees are entitled to sick leave to attend to their own health needs or that of their immediate family members. The duration and conditions for sick leave are outlined in the Labour Law.
  • Maternity Leave: Female employees are entitled to maternity leave as per the UAE Labour Law. The duration of maternity leave and conditions vary based on the employee’s length of service and other factors.
  • Paternity Leave: Some companies in the UAE offer paternity leave to male employees to attend to family needs upon the birth of a child. However, this is not mandated by the UAE Labour Law and varies from company to company.
  • Hajj Leave: Muslim employees may be granted additional leave to perform the Hajj pilgrimage. However, this leave is subject to company policies and is not mandated by law.
  • Bereavement Leave: Employees may be granted leave to mourn the death of a close family member. Again, the duration and conditions for bereavement leave are usually outlined in company policies.
  • Special Leave: This type of leave may be granted for special circumstances such as marriage, relocation, or other personal reasons. The availability and conditions for special leave depend on company policies.

To find more about these leaves read on: This blog is a part of Mainland Litigation Services

Annual Leave Policy in the UAE

According to the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, commonly referred to as the UAE Labour Law, employees are entitled to a fully paid annual leave of 30 days if they have completed one year of continuous service with their employer. Additionally, employees who have completed six months of service, but not yet one year, are entitled to two days of annual leave per month. Part-time employees are also entitled to annual leave based on the actual working hours specified in their employment contracts, as outlined in the Executive Regulations of the Labour Law.

Rules Regarding Annual Leave Usage

It is mandatory for employees to utilize their annual leave entitlement within the year it is granted. However, employers have the authority, in agreement with the employees, to set the dates of annual leave based on work requirements. Employers must notify employees of the scheduled leave at least one month in advance.

Employees may, with the consent of their employer and in accordance with company regulations, carry over their unused annual leave balance to the following year. In such cases, the employee will be entitled to payment for the days worked during the annual leave, calculated based on their basic salary.

Employers are prohibited from preventing employees from using their accrued annual leave for more than two years. Upon termination of employment, any accrued but unused annual leave will be calculated based on the employee’s basic salary only.

The duration of annual leave policy includes official holidays specified by law or by agreement, as well as any other leaves caused by sickness, if they fall within the period of annual leave, unless the employment contract or company regulations specify otherwise.

It’s important to note that specific entitlements and conditions regarding annual leave may vary depending on the company’s policies and any collective agreements in place. Employees should refer to their employment contracts and company policies for detailed information on their leave entitlements.

Sick leave policy

An employee becomes eligible for sick leave, not exceeding 90 days annually, after completing the probationary period. This sick leave can be taken continuously or intermittently. Payment during sick leave is structured as follows: full pay for the initial 15 days, half pay for the subsequent 30 days, and no pay for the remaining 45 days. During the probationary period, sick leave without pay may be granted upon employer approval, contingent upon a medical report from an authorized medical entity affirming its necessity. These provisions do not extend to sick leave resulting from occupational illness.

In certain circumstances, an employee is not entitled to paid sick leave. These include the probationary period, situations where the illness stems directly from the employee’s misconduct, such as alcohol or narcotics consumption, and instances where the worker breaches safety instructions as outlined by UAE legislation and the company’s regulations, which the employee has been made aware of. As per Article 31 of the UAE Labour Law, it is mandatory for the employee to inform the employer of their sickness within a maximum of three days and provide a medical report from a certified medical entity detailing their condition.

An employee cannot be terminated while on sick leave policy according to the UAE Labour Law. However, if an employee exhausts their allocated 90 days of sick leave and remains unable to return to work, the employer reserves the right to terminate their services. In this scenario, the employee is entitled to receive end-of-service benefits as outlined in the labour law provisions.

Maternity leave policy

Female workers are provided with maternity leave under specific provisions. This leave spans 60 days, during which 45 days are fully paid and the remaining 15 days are half paid. Application for maternity leave can be made up to 30 days prior to the expected date of delivery. Additionally, if a female worker experiences illness due to pregnancy or childbirth, she can take an extra 45 days of unpaid leave, supported by a medical certificate from the relevant medical authority.

In the case of a sick or disabled child, the female worker can avail herself of an additional 30 days of fully paid leave, extendable by another 30 days without pay, upon presentation of a medical certificate.

Following her return to work, the female worker is entitled to one or two breaks each day for nursing her child, not exceeding one hour in total. These breaks are fully paid and available for a duration of 6 months from the date of delivery.

Check back this space to know more about the other leave types. Information in this article may keep changing as the UAE labour laws are revised.

By elucidating the intricacies of each type of leave, this article aims to equip both employers and employees with the knowledge needed to navigate leave entitlements effectively. As the UAE continues to evolve its labour laws to meet the needs of its diverse workforce, understanding and adhering to these regulations remain paramount for fostering a fair and harmonious work environment. Whether it’s sick leave, maternity leave, or annual leave, knowing one’s rights and responsibilities ensures that individuals can strike a balance between work and personal life while upholding legal standards. Through continued awareness and compliance, stakeholders can contribute to a workplace culture that values employee well-being and respects labour rights in the UAE.


The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the respective authors. ATB Legal does not endorse these opinions. While we make every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the information provided in our blogs, inaccuracies may occur due to changes in the legislative landscape or human errors. It is important to note that ATB Legal does not assume any responsibility for actions taken based on the information presented in these blogs. We strongly recommend verifying information from official sources and consulting with professional advisors to ensure its accuracy and relevance to your specific circumstances.

About ATB Legal

ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats.

Please feel free to reach out to us at office@atblegal.com for a non-obligatory initial consultation.

by Reshma Rose Jacob

Reshma is a legal consultant at ATB Legal. She is a law graduate from St. Joseph’s College of Law, Bangalore, and is enrolled with the Bar Council of Kerala.

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