Am I entitled to take 30 days of paid annual leave in UAE?
Any leave taken by you beyond the annual leave may be an unpaid leave.
My employment contract states that I am entitled to 30 days of unpaid leave for one year of service with my employer. What are my rights regarding paid leave and how can I avail of it?
Pursuant to your query, we assume that you are employed by an employer based in the mainland of UAE and therefore, the provisions of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 regulating employment relations in the UAE (the 'Employment Law') shall be applicable.
As per the provisions of the Employment Law, it may be noted that an employee shall be entitled to a paid annual leave of 30 days upon completion of one year of employment with an employer. This is in accordance with Article 75 of the Employment Law which states: "An employee shall, for each year of service, be entitled to an annual leave of not less than:
1. Two days a month, where the employee's period of service is more than six months but less than one year.It may, therefore, be noted that your employer should pay you salary, which includes basic pay and housing allowance if applicable as part of your annual leave salary. This is in accordance with Article 78 of the Employment Law, which states: "Each employee shall be entitled to his basic remuneration and the housing allowance, if applicable, in respect of his days of annual leave."
2. 30 days a year, where the employee's period of service is more than one year."
Your employer is obligated to pay you salary for the annual leave which are accrued to you as on the date of commencement of your annual vacation. The annual leave salary may be paid by your employer prior to the commencement of your vacation. This is in accordance with Article 80 of the Employment Law, which states: "Before the commencement of an employee's annual leave, his employer shall pay the full remuneration due to him plus the leave pay prescribed for him under this law."
Any leave taken by you beyond the annual leave may be an unpaid leave. This is in accordance with Article 89 of the Employment Law, which states: "Subject to the provisions of this law, any employee who fails to resume work immediately after the expiry of his leave shall automatically forfeit his remuneration for the period of his absence, with effect from the day immediately following that on which the leave expires."
If the 30 days of leave specified in your employment contract is in addition to the annual leave then your employer is not under an obligation to remunerate you for the additional 30 days of leave as mentioned in your job agreement.
However, if your employer construes the clause related to 30 days of unpaid leave mentioned in the employment contract as the regular annual leave entitlement, then such provision is contrary to the Employment Law and may be considered as null and void. This is in accordance with Article 7 of the Employment Law, which states, "Any stipulations contrary to the provisions of this law, even if it were made prior to its commencement, shall be null and avoid unless they are more advantageous to the employee."
Based on the aforementioned provision of the Employment Law, your employer is obligated to remunerate you for the annual leave. However, any further leaves, other than annual leave and sick leave, availed by you shall be unpaid and the employer may not be under an obligation to remunerate you for any additional leaves taken. In the event your employer does not pay your salary for the annual leaves or any accrued annual leaves, you may file a complaint against your employer with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiritsation (MOHRE) related to non-payment of salary for annual leaves.
Know the law
Any employee who fails to resume work immediately after the expiry of his leave shall automatically forfeit his remuneration for the period of his absence.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.