For women and men working in the UAE, maternity and paternity benefits vary between the private sector and public (government) sector.
The provisions may also be different if you are working under a different jurisdiction such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
However, the maternity leave provisions of the UAE Labour Law apply to private-sector employees equally across all of the emirates in the UAE.
UAE paternity leave for the private sector
Employees in the UAE’s private sector are entitled to five days’ of paid parental leave, to be taken within the first six months of the baby’s birth.
This was introduced after an amendment to the UAE Labour Law was approved by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, in August 2020.
Previously the UAE did not require private sector companies to provide any kind of parental or paternity leave to male employees, although some companies included an allowance at their own discretion.
Previously male employees of the government were entitled to three days of paid paternity leave.
UAE maternity leave for the private sector
Women working in the private sector of the UAE are entitled to 45 calendar days of leave at full pay for those employees who have completed one year of continuous service as at the date of birth.
If a woman has been working for less than one year of continuous service at the date of her child’s birth, she is entitled to 45 calendar days of leave at half pay.
Maternity leave pay in both scenarios is gross salary, meaning it is inclusive of basic and allowances.
The leave is calculated based on calendar days (not working days), which means that weekends are included as part of the allowance. This roughly equates to just over six weeks.
Maternity leave may be taken before or after the baby’s delivery.
However, “where an employee is experiencing pregnancy-related health issues and complications prior to the birth, she would be entitled to sick leave in the normal manner, provided she has a valid medical certificate,” says Anna Marshall, employment and incentives lawyer at law firm Al Tamimi.
As per the UAE Labour Law, private-sector employees are entitled to a sick leave not exceeding 90 consecutive or non-consecutive days for every year of service, calculated as follows:
- a - The first fifteen days with full pay.
- b - The following thirty days with half-pay.
- c - Any following period without pay.
Extension of maternity leave in private sector due to sickness
After a woman’s 45 days of paid maternity leave is over, she is able to extend her leave by up to 100 days of unpaid leave if she has a valid medical certificate stating that the illness resulted from pregnancy or delivery, says Anna Marshall, employment associate at Al Tamimi & Company.
“In relation to the additional 100 days of unpaid leave provided for under the UAE Labour Law, the law does not distinguish between women with more or less than one year of continuous service. The employee’s length of service only affects whether she is entitled to full pay or half pay for the initial 45 calendar days’ statutory maternity leave.”
Paid breastfeeding break for female employees of the private sector
For 18 months following the date of delivery, a female employee is entitled to two breaks of not more than half an hour each to nurse her child, without any loss to remuneration.
Maternity leave and end-of-service gratuity in the private sector
“For end-of-service gratuity purposes, the 45 calendar day period of statutory maternity leave is counted towards the employee’s length of service,” says Al Tamimi’s Anna Marshall. “The law is silent as to whether the additional 100 calendar days of unpaid maternity leave due to a pregnancy or birth-related sickness (as provided for under the UAE Labour Law) would also count for gratuity purposes, however in our view it also would.
But in instances where the employer has simply granted the employee an additional period of unpaid leave in order to extend her maternity leave (i.e. rather than due to any pregnancy or delivery related illness), such period of unpaid leave would not be taken into account for end of service gratuity purposes.”
Maternity and paternity rights for UAE government
“The maternity leave allowances for Government employees in most of the emirates are a bit more generous than those for private-sector employees, with most offering at least 60 days of paid leave (although not all at full pay),” says Anna Marshall. The UAE government website gives the following overview on maternity and paternity leave for UAE government works.
Maternity and paternity leave for employees of the UAE federal government
Female employees in a permanent position in the federal government are entitled to 90 days’ paid maternity leave and male employees are entitled to 3 days’ paternity leave. Leaves vary for the employees of local governments.
After that, for 4 months from the date of the employee resuming work, a female employee is entitled to 2 hours' reduced working hours to nurse her child either at the beginning or at the end of the working hours. Such breaks are fully paid for.
Maternity leave may not be combined with leave without pay.
A male employee who has a child is entitled to paid paternity leave for three days for the month following delivery, if the delivery happens in the UAE.
Maternity leave in Abu Dhabi
Women are entitled to three months of fully-paid maternity leave. After the female employee resumes work, she is entitled to two hours of daily leave for the first year after delivery to nurse her child.
Men are entitled to three days' paternity leave.
Dubai government maternity guidelines
Maternity leave in Dubai Government is regulated by Decree No. 14 of 2017 Concerning Maternity, Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Childcare Leave for Female Employees of the Government of Dubai .
The decree grants female employee 90 days of maternity leave starting from the delivery date. She may also apply for her maternity leave up to 30 days prior to the expected date of delivery.
Annual leave and unpaid leave can be added to the maternity leave taking the maximum total number of days to 120.
After resuming work and for one year from the date of the baby’s birth, the mother is entitled to 2 hours' reduced working hours to nurse her child, either at the beginning or at the end of the working hours. There is no nursing break for women during the month of Ramadan.
Where a female employee gives birth to a baby with special needs, she will be granted childcare leave for the period from the expiry date of the maternity leave to the date on which her baby completes one 1 year of age.
According to Dubai Government Human Resources Management Law No. 8 of 2018, men are entitled to 3 days of fully paid paternity leave, to be taken within one month of the birth of the child.
Maternity leave in Sharjah government
Since the issuance of a local decree in 2016, the total period of maternity leave in Sharjah Government is 120 days, comprising 90 days paid leave and 30 days unpaid leave.
The decree permitted to adding annual leave to the maternity leave and granted new mothers two hours for nursing their child for a duration of six months.
Maternity leave in Ras Al Khaimah government
In November 2016, Ras Al Khaimah Government extended the maternity leave to 90 days paid leave. Earlier in 2015, the nursing period was extended to one whole year from the birth of the baby.