UAE law: Can my employer stop me from going on extended annual leave?

Find out if there is a limit to the number of paid days off you can take from work

By Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 28 Nov 2021, 7:42 PM

Question: I work in a company based in Dubai. I was unable to travel to my home country due to Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions. I have over 40 days of paid leaves left. I wish to avail the leave together and go on a long break, but my employer is refusing to approve it. By law, is there a limit on the number of leaves employees can take?

Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you are employed in a mainland company based in the emirate of Dubai. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 Regulating Employment Relations in the UAE (the ‘Employment Law’) are applicable.

In the UAE, an employee is eligible for 30 days of annual leave if he or she has completed at least one year of service with the employer. This is in accordance with Article 75 of the Employment Law, which states, “The employee must be granted an annual leave during each year of service which may not be less than:

1. Two days per month in respect of any employee with more than six months and less than one year of service.

2. Thirty days per annum in respect of any employee whose period of service exceeds one year.

In the event of termination of an employee's service, he shall be entitled to an annual leave for the fractions of the last year of service.”

Further, an employer is entitled to decide on the commencement date of the annual leave and divide the same into two parts. This is in accordance with Article 76 of the Employment Law, which states, “The employer may at his discretion determine the date for commencement of annual leaves and, when necessary, he may decide to divide the leave in two parts at the most, except in cases of juveniles where vacation may not be divided in parts.”

However, an employer is obligated not to employ an employee continuously for more than two years without granting an annual leave. This is in accordance with Article 78 of the Employment Law, which states, “The employee shall receive his basic pay in addition to housing allowance, if any, for the annual leave days. However, if the exigencies of work necessitate that the employee works during his annual leave in whole or in part, and the period of leave during which he has worked, has not been carried forward to the next year, the employer ought to pay him his wage in addition to cash in lieu of leave for his working days based on his basic pay.

It shall be unlawful in any circumstances to employ a worker during his annual leave more than once in two successive years.”

As per the aforementioned Article 78 of the Employment Law, an employee is also entitled to his or her basic salary and housing allowance as the annual leave salary. Further, as per Article 80 of the Employment Law, the employer may have to pay the leave salary before the employee travels to annual leave or prior to commencement of employee’s annual leave.

Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, your employer is obligated to grant you paid annual leave at least once in two years for the number of annual leave which is accumulated to your credit.


We assume that you have not availed annual leave for more than one year as your accumulated annual leave as on date is more than 40 days. Therefore, you are eligible to avail your annual leave and the employer may not be able to stop you from availing annual leave.

In the event your employer denies granting you the relevant annual leave, you may consider filing a complaint against your employer with the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation.

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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