New UAE labour law: 6 types of paid leaves explained

Can I combine paid and unpaid leaves if I have an emergency?


Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 20 Feb 2022, 10:06 AM

Last updated: Sun 20 Feb 2022, 10:51 PM

Question: I work in a company in mainland Dubai. I need to go on a long leave as a result of an emergency back home. Could you explain the different types of paid leaves that are available to employees? I would be grateful if you could also explain the rules around unpaid leaves. Can I be fired over a long absence that combines both paid and unpaid leaves?

Response: Pursuant to your queries, the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'Employment Law') and those of Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 Concerning the Executive Regulations of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations ('the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022) are applicable.

In the UAE, an expatriate employee is eligible for paid annual, sick, maternity, parental, bereavement and study leaves.

An employee may avail 30 calendar days of annual leave for each year of completed service. This is in accordance with Article 29 of the Employment Law, which states: "Without prejudice to the rights accruing to the employee prior to the entry into force of this Decree-Law, the employee shall be entitled to a paid annual leave of not less than:

a. 30 days a year for each year of service.

b. Two days per month, where the period of service is more than six months and less than one year.

c. A leave for the fractions of the last year of service in the event of end of his service before the use of his annual leave balance."

Further, a pregnant woman in the UAE may avail up to 60 days of paid maternity leave once she completes six months of pregnancy. This is in accordance with Article 30(1) & (3) of the Employment Law.

An employee in the UAE is also eligible for 45 days of paid sick leave, as mentioned in Article 31 (3) of the Employment Law.

Article 32 of the Employment Law states that employees are entitled to five days of bereavement leave in case of death of a spouse; and three days in case of death of parent, child, sibling, grand parents or grandchild.

Further, an employee can get five days of parental leave, which needs to be availed within six months from the date of birth.

The said article states that an employee may avail up to 10 days of study leave in a year if he is a student in an educational institution in the UAE, provided he has completed two years of service with the employer.

It is pertinent to note that an employee in the UAE may avail of unpaid leave with the consent of his employer. This is in accordance with Article 33 of the Employment Law, which states:

"1. An employee may, after the consent of the employer, take unpaid leave, other than leaves referred to herein.

2. Leave referred to in the paragraph above shall not be counted in the period of service of the employee with the employer and within the pension system according to the relevant legislation in force."


Further, an employee may be allowed to combine bereavement, parental, annual, and unpaid leaves as mentioned in Article 21 (5) of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022.

You may not be terminated if you and your employer have mutually agreed on your long-term leave until a specific date. However, you are required to report back to employment once you complete your long-term leave as agreed with your employer.

Your employer may terminate your services without notice as mentioned in Article 44 (8) of the Employment Law if you have not reported back to work within seven days of completion of your mutually agreed long-term leave.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.

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