WHAT ARE YOUR MATERNITY RIGHTS IN THE UAE?
It is only when a baby is arriving in your life that the time frame for maternity and paternity leave become so important. Depending on where your company is based, the leave time and additional maternity benefits can be vastly different. In this article we discuss what rights you have under the UAE Law and in particular DIFC Law in Dubai.
The maternity rights for private sector employees in the UAE are governed by the Federal Law No 8. of 1980 (the ‘UAE Labour Law’). The UAE Labour Law applies to mainland Dubai employers and employees, as well as in all freezones other than the Dubai International Financial Centre (the ‘DIFC’). Maternity rights in the DIFC are governed by the DIFC Employment Law No 4 of 2005 (as amended) (the ‘DIFC Law’).
What are your maternity rights under the UAE Labour Law?
Pursuant to Article 30 of the UAE Labour Law, provided that a female employee has completed at least 1 year of continuous service, she is entitled to maternity leave with full pay for 45 days. If an employee has completed less than a year of continuous service then she will be entitled to 45 days of maternity leave at half pay. This maternity period includes both pre and post natal periods.
The same Article permits a female employee who has finished all her maternity leave to take an additional maximum of 100 days unpaid leave, if she has a pregnancy or delivery related illness.
According to Article 31 of the UAE Labour Law, for a period of 18 months post- delivery, a female employee breastfeeding her child is entitled to two additional breaks each day for this purpose. These breaks are not to exceed 30 minutes.
What are your maternity rights under the DIFC Labour Law?
Under Article 37 of the DIFC Law, DIFC employees benefit from a longer maternity leave than mainland company employees. Providing that the employee has been employed for at least 1 year and has met the required notification requirements specified in the law, she will be entitled to a minimum maternity leave of 65 working days. This is an interesting contrast to the UAE Labour Law which provides maternity leave in calendar days.
Pursuant to Article 38 of the DIFC Law, the employee is entitled to receive full pay for the first 33 working days’ of her leave and 50% of her normal wage for the remaining 32 working days of her maternity leave. This is another contrast to the UAE Labour Law, as under the UAE Labour Law all 45 days maternity leave is at full pay.
After the employee has exhausted the minimum maternity leave period she has the right to return to the same position at work, in accordance with Article 39 of the DIFC Law.
It is apparent from the above that the DIFC Law has more advantageous maternity laws than the UAE Labour Law. However, the DIFC Law does not have the UAE Labour Law equivalent of Article 31, namely the provision that allows a female employee to take two 30 minutes breaks post- delivery, for nursing purposes.
In relation to the government sector employees, the UAE Labour Law is becoming more progressive. In September 2016, The National UAE news announced a new law for government entities within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which will grant full paid maternity leave for 90 days to government employees. It was further stated that this law will allow government sector fathers in Abu Dhabi to benefit from three days paternity leave. Further, this law will also allow mothers to take 2 hours of daily leave for the first year after the delivery.
It appears that although so far the Emirate of Dubai has not introduced any changes to the maternity laws applicable in Dubai, there are some private companies that do provide enhanced maternity packages. By way of an example, in September 2016 the Gulf News reported that “Omnicom Media Group Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has increased its maternity leave to 90 days or about three months, doubling the provisions in the UAE’s Labour Law.” This is an interesting and positive development as it shows that companies in the region are increasingly willing to support women who wish to have a work-motherhood balance.
Since last year there has been a UAE Gender Balance Council established in Dubai. This is a federal entity and one of its roles is to review the current maternity laws. Given the recent development of maternity rights in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi for government entities, it would be interesting to see whether the Emirate of Dubai and the other Emirates may also introduce revised maternity provisions at some point in the near future.
Our employment lawyers in Dubai can help you put in place the best policies for your business and if you are being affected detrimentally by the maternity policies in your workplace, we can help you get the rights you deserve.
If you would like to know more, contact our employment team at firstname.lastname@example.org at James Berry & Associates, which is one of the top law firms in Dubai.
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