In a little more than two weeks’ time, the provisions of a New Labour Law take effect across the UAE, standardising holiday and annual leave allowances for tens of thousands of workers in the private sector — and the countless firms across all emirates in which these workers are employed.
Come February 2, the provisions of the new law take effect, ensuring that all workers in the private sector will be entitled to a fully paid annual leave allowance amounting to 30 days per year of service. The law also codifies that new employees will be entitled to annual leave provisions of two days for every month’s service if they work for more than six months but less than a full year of service.
The provisions of the new law also change some of the calculations when it comes to end-of-service leave. It clarifies the provisions of leave for part-time workers, basing their leave calculations on the actual hours worked and specified in their work contracts.
These reforms are the latest in a series of welcome measures that seek to fix imbalances between workers in the public and private sectors — a necessary step in ensuring the success of the long-held aim of widespread Emiratisation across all sectors of the national economy.
For most workers, the clarification and codification of leave allowances ensures greater transparency. Effectively, the new changes mean that a significant proportion of workers in the private sector will see their annual holiday leave allowances grow by several days — and more time off work is always welcomed by employees.
For employers, the new labour law allows them to let their workers take holidays, on specific days and it sets out measures that need to be taken to inform workers of when holidays can be scheduled. Those measures are essential in ensuring that productivity is kept at optimum levels and that the needs of commercial enterprises are fairly balanced against holiday pressures.
Other provisions clarify the right to carry some leave over into the following year, and the law allows for cash payments to compensate when the full holiday allowances cannot be satisfied with actual time away from the workplace.
This is a progressive measure, one that increases allowances and ensures greater stability in the workplace, setting out in clear terms the rights of workers and their need for vacation.