Helping career-oriented women find a work-life balance is an important aspect of societal progress and the emerging revisions in maternity leave laws in the UAE are a welcome step in strengthening that balance for the female workforce. Recently, Abu Dhabi increased its maternity leave allowance for its government employees from 45 days to three months of fully-paid leave and two hours of daily leave for the first year after delivery to enable new mothers to avail of an extended period of care for their newborns. Last week, Sharjah announced a totally revised package of maternity leave of up to 120 days (comprising 90 paid and 30 unpaid days), while Ras Al Khaimah announced a fully paid three-month maternity leave benefit for working women.
These measures will go a long way in addressing one of the fundamental issues working mothers face — just how much of nurturing time for their newborn and recuperation time for themselves can they look forward to before they return to their jobs?
The longevity of this time lies at the heart of not just the wellness of the newborn in the crucial early post-partum weeks, but is also a predicator of the new mother’s ability to bounce back to optimal physical and psychological health. The latter is a critical factor that defines long-term corporate robustness owing to the payoff for employee retention. According to the World Bank, 46.4 per cent of the UAE female population is working, with women making up 13 per cent of the country’s labour force. The economic impact of these numbers cannot be overemphasised. As such, progressive maternity leave policies will ensure that productivity and participation of the female workforce, that is fundamental to progress, will at all times be invigorating.