Everything you need to know about maternity leave in UAE

19 Jul, 2020
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Camilla Forest

Legal Consultant

Working mothers need to get a break from professional activities to welcome a new child in the family. The period of maternity leave is guaranteed by the UAE Laws, but it can raise doubts. How long is the license? Who can receive it? How much does the mother earn? What to do to have the right? Take these and other questions below:

What is maternity leave? 

The maternity leave is a period granted to a woman who is about to have a child or just had a baby remains away from work, in order to reestablish herself from the delivery and raise bonds with her new baby.

In UAE the maternity leave for females working on the private sector are regulated by the Federal Law n.08/1980 (UAE Labor Law) 

For females working on the public sector, it differs from federal workers to public workers from each emirate.

How much is the maternity pay? 

The expectant mother is entitled to a gross amount of salary during her absence. Meaning: the basic salary plus all the allowances described in her labor contract.

However, the work period must be considered in order to accurate if this payment will be made in full or in half. As per the law, if the expectant mother has worked for at least one year previously the maternity leave requirement, she is entitled to her full payment. However, If the employee has completed less than a year of service upon the leave request, the payment will be only half of the salary. 

Who can ask for maternity leave?

Any female employee expectant mother is entitled to maternity leave. It does not matter if she works in the private or public sector or the company based on a free zone or mainland.

Labor contracts that wave maternity leave are void of object once the regulation of maternity leave is granted by a Federal law and must be respected for all the UAE sectors.

How long it takes maternity leave?

For females working on the private sector, the maternity leave is regulated by article 30 of the Labor Law, and states 45 (forty-five) days of maternity leave.

It is important to highlight that the count of days is current, meaning that weekends and public holidays are included in this period.

When does the maternity leave start to count?

The leave starts as soon as the employee resumes her activities and can be before or after the delivery.

Is this time possible to be extendable?

According to the law, an extension of up to 100 days consecutive or not can be asked when finishing the maternity leave period. 

Nonetheless, it's a non-paid leave and must be proved that absence is due to certified medical illness.

What is breastfeed leave?

In addition to the 45-day maternity leave, mothers who work and breastfeed for the first 18 months of their baby's life are entitled, by law, to two breaks, of half an hour each to breastfeed, as part of the working hours and being illegal any reduction of salary based on this period.

Do pregnant women or returning from maternity leave have a job guarantee?

No, being pregnant alone is not sufficient reason for dismissal. However, the female worker can be fired during the pregnancy time.

It is important to say if the dismissal occurs without a valid reason, the worker can file a claim to the UAE Labor Court. The Court's rule can vary from reinstatement, and if not possible, settlement of adequate compensation based on your gross salary, plus gratuity and end of service compensations.

The job position is also not secured by maternity leave. In the course of the leave, the employer decided to move the employee to another position is perfectly legal, once there is no salary reduction.

The termination of the contract, while the woman is in maternity leave, is illegal, and the mother can file a claim on the Labor Court against the employer for compensation.

Can sick leave be used with maternity leave?

Any employee has a right by law for sick leave not exceeding 90 days a year.

Any illness related to the pregnancy as soon as the provided medical certificate is covered by the legal period. The payment is calculated according to article 83 of the Labor law: 

· The first 15 days: with full pay. 

· The next 30 days: with half pay. 

· Any subsequent periods: without pay. 

How does it work for women in the public sector? 

  • For Federal Employees:

If the mother or expectant is a federal employee, the law granted 90 days of maternity leave with full salary payment, after returning to her work activities with 2 hours daily for breastfeeding.

  • Abu Dhabi

Workers are entitled to three months of paid maternity leave in full. Upon return, she is entitled to two hours off daily in the first year after delivery to breastfeeding her child.

  • Dubai 

Maternity leave in Dubai grants female employees 90 days of maternity leave starting from the delivery date. She may also apply for maternity leave up to 30 days prior to the expected delivery date. And 2 hours to nurse her child, when she resumes her work activities.

Annual leave and unpaid leave can be added to maternity leave taking the maximum total number of days to 120. 

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.

  • Sharjah 

Since 2016, the total period of maternity leave in Sharjah Government is 120 days, being 90 days of fully paid leave and 30 days unpaid leave.

The decree permitted adding annual leave to the maternity leave and granted new mothers two hours to nursing their child for an additional six months.

  • Ras Al Khaimah

In 2016, Ras Al Khaimah Government extended the maternity leave to 90 days paid leave, and the nursing period is one whole year from the birth of the baby.

The DIFC maternity leave 

Employees working on DIFC has 65 (sixty-five) days of maternity leave as per the article 36 of the DIFC Employment Law.

The payment will be regulated by the time of service being the mother entitled of full payment once she worked at least 12 months prior to the leave demand.

The payment will be made in full for the first 33 days and 50% for the additional 32 days. 

The DIFC also states the importance of the pregnancy's notification by the expectant mother to the employer about the pregnancy, which must be a minimum 8 (eight) weeks prior to the childbirth followed by a medical report. The notification of the beginning of maternity leave must occur minimum in 21 days in advance.

Under the DIFC law, the adoption of a child is also comprised of the maternity leave institute as long as the adopted child is less than 5 years old. All the other requirements abovementioned will count as the day of the adoption.

The Annual leave can be consecutive to the maternity leave period.

The Public holiday that falls into the maternity leave period is considered an extension of the maternity leave period.

The mother working under the DIFC law is granted the return to work at the same conditions, same position, and employment terms prior to leaving.

The Paternity leave

For all male employees of the UAE public section, that have a child delivered in UAE is granted 3 days of fully paid paternity leave. All the Emirates follow the same recommendation stated on the Federal Decree 11/2008.

For fathers in the private sector, the UAE Labor law does not state any paternity leave period. However, the companies tend to follow the guidelines for public service, although it is not mandatory.

Under the DIFC law, fathers have 5 days of paternity leave if prior the leave the employee completed at least 12 months of working service under the DIFC authority and notify the pregnancy to the employer at least 8 weeks before the childbirth.

The paternity leave also applies for adopting children under 5 years old and must be taken in a moth of the delivery/adoption.

The Public holiday that falls into the paternity leave period is considered an extension of the leave period.


Camilla Forest    

Legal Consultant    

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