Compensatory days off in UAE for working on public holidays: What you need to know

A KT reader who worked on January 1, asks how they can avail their compensatory off


Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 8 Jan 2023, 10:07 AM

Last updated: Sun 18 Jun 2023, 11:21 PM

[Editor's note: This article was originally published in January 2023. It is being reshared as Eid Al Adha holidays approach to inform residents about compensatory leave policies in the UAE.]

Question: I had to work on January 1, 2023, which is an official holiday, with the understanding that I would get a compensatory off. How is this off determined? I ask because previously my compensatory off ‘lapsed’ according to my HR. Can I take it when I please? Is there a period during which I must avail this?

Response: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are employed by a mainland private company in the UAE and as you performed your work for your employer on an official public holiday.

In the UAE, the first day of the Gregorian calendar is declared an official public holiday. Therefore, the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation (MoHRE) declared that January 1, 2023, is a public holiday.

An employer may call upon an employee to work on an official public holiday. However, in such case the employer should grant the employee compensatory leave for working on a public holiday or a full day’s salary and additionally 50 per cent of the basic salary for making an employee work on a public holiday. This is in accordance with Article 28 of the Employment Law, which states, the employee shall be entitled to official leave with full pay on public holidays determined by the decision of the Cabinet.

Secondly, should the work circumstances require that the employee be employed on holidays, the employee shall be compensated with a substitute rest day for each day worked or be paid his salary for normal working days plus a supplement of at least 50 per cent of his basic salary for that day.

However, the Employment Law is silent related to the limitation period to avail compensatory leave. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the employer to grant employees compensatory leave for working on a public holiday or compensate such employees with additional pay as mentioned above. The employer may decide the dates when an employee may avail compensatory leave. In the event, your employer does not grant you compensatory leave or additional payment for working on public holidays and if the human resource manager of your employer states that your compensatory leave has lapsed you may contact the MoHRE and file a complaint against your employer.

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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