New UAE labour law explained: What workers need to know about annual, sick, maternity leaves

Top legal experts discuss recent updates in country's labour law at the second forum for employers

by Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Tue 7 Jun 2022, 6:03 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Jun 2022, 7:44 PM

Several new standards, welfare and leave policies were added to ensure employee work life balance and overall wellbeing of private sector employees in the UAE, a top legal expert said Tuesday.

Dr Ahmad Al Shehi, legal expert, and head of labour complaints at the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization said significant changes have been introduced to family leave entitlements, discrimination laws, termination of employment and ‘non-compete’ clauses in employment contracts drafted after February 2022.

Dr Shehi was speaking at the second forum for employers, organised by the Labour Standards Development Authority (LSDA) in Sharjah.

Federal Decree – Law No. 33 of 2021 on the regulation of labour relations in the private sector came into force on February 2 this year. According to the UAE government, the law is designed to enhance employment rights and boost the competitiveness of the Emirates as a place to live and work, helping the region to attract and retain world class talent.

The new law also makes provision for businesses to put in place part-time and flexible working arrangements.

The leave policies stipulated in the new labour law are as follows:

- Maternity leave entitlement has been increased to 45 days at 100 per cent pay; plus 15 days at 50 per cent pay with no minimum qualifying service requirement

- Maternity leave is now available to women who suffer from a miscarriage or still birth after six months of pregnancy

- If a mother utilizes the maternity leave to work in another organisation, the employer has the reclaim all the paid leaves

- An additional 45 days’ unpaid leave is available where the employee suffers from a pregnancy related illness

- Additional 30 days’ paid leave and 30 days’ unpaid leave is available where the employee’s child has a disability

- Basic annual leave entitlements remain the same as the previous law states

- Employees no longer have the automatic right to carry forward unused annual leave to the next holiday year

- Any carry forward or payment in lieu can only be made with the agreement of the employer

- Payment in lieu of holidays on termination is at the rate of basic salary only

- Employees with more than two years’ experience are entitled to 10-days study leave.


- To be eligible, the employee must be studying at a government approved UAE educational institution

- All employees are eligible to compassionate leave in the event a family member dies. In case of death of a spouse, employee is entitled five days’ leave. In the case of death of parent, child, sibling, grandparent or grandchild, employee is entitled three days leave

Dhanusha Gokulan
Dhanusha Gokulan

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