UAE: Will I lose my job if I take unpaid leave without telling my boss?

The number of days of any approved unpaid leave availed by the employee will not be included in calculating the service period


Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sat 5 Nov 2022, 8:02 PM

Last updated: Sun 6 Nov 2022, 5:19 PM

Question: Can you explain the concept of leave without pay? I need to go on a long leave, but I have exhausted all my paid days off. If I were to opt for leave without pay, how would it be calculated? What’s the maximum I can avail? If I am taking the leave with my employer’s knowledge, under what circumstances can I lose my job?

Response: It is assumed that you are employed by a mainland entity based in the UAE. Therefore, the provisions of the Employment Law and Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022 on the Implementation of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 regarding the Regulation of Employment Relations are applicable.

In the UAE, an employee may avail of unpaid leave based on the consent of the employer. This is in accordance with Article 33(1) of the Employment Law.

Based on the aforementioned provision of law, an employee may avail of unpaid leave. However, an employer may have the right to terminate the employee if he does not resume the employment within seven days after the exhaustion of his or her unpaid leave.

This is in accordance with Article 44 (8) of the Employment Law, which states: "An employer may dismiss the employee without prior notice, after a written investigation with him, and dismissal shall be in writing and reasoned, and given by the employer, or his representative to the employee, if the employee absents from work without legal cause or justification acceptable to the employer for more than 20 interrupted days in a year, or more than seven consecutive days."


Further, the days of approved unpaid leave availed by the employee will not be included while calculating the service period. This is in accordance with Article 33(2) of the Employment Law.

An employer may not terminate an employee while he or she is on any approved leave unless agreed mutually with the employee. This is in accordance with Article 35 of the Employment Law, which states, "If either party wants to terminate the contract during the period of leave in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations, then the notice period agreed upon in the employment contract shall commence only on the day following the date on which the employee returns from leave, unless agreed otherwise by the parties."


It should be further noted that an employer may file an absconding case against an employee with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, if an employee is absent from work for seven consecutive days or 20 non-consecutive days. This is in accordance with Article 28 of the Cabinet Resolution No. 1 of 2022.

Based on the aforementioned provisions of law it is recommended that you may avail unpaid leave if your employer consents for the same in writing. Further, if your employer approves your unpaid leave, then upon completion of such leave, it is prudent on your part to resume the employment to avoid termination of employment and the employer filing an absconding case against you.

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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