UAE: How long can an employee apply for medical leave?

KT reader asks what to do after being diagnosed with illness that requires extended leave


Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 24 Sep 2023, 8:19 AM

Last updated: Sun 24 Sep 2023, 10:02 PM

Question: I have been diagnosed with a mental illness for which I will require an extended leave. Can I apply for a medical leave based on this? If so, for how long - paid and otherwise?

Answer: Pursuant to your queries, it is assumed that you are employed by a mainland company and have completed your probation period with your employer. Therefore, the provisions of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulations of Employment Relations are applicable.

In the UAE, an employee is entitled to 90 days of annual leave upon completion of his or her probation period with an employer. This is in accordance with Article 31(3) of the Employment Law, which states, “An employee who completes his probationary period shall be entitled to a sick leave not exceeding (90) ninety days, successive or otherwise, in respect of each year of service, to be calculated as follows:

a. The first (15) fifteen days with full pay;

b. The next (30) thirty days with half pay;

c. Subsequent period without pay.”

Furthermore, an employee may avail leave without pay with the consent of his or her employer. This is in accordance with Article 33 (1) of the Employment Law, which states, “The employee may, after the consent of the employer, take an unpaid leave, other than leaves referred to herein."

The Employment Law and its subsequent ministerial decrees are silent on the nature of sickness to avail of sick leave. Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you may apply for long-term sick leave up to 90 days in a year as mentioned in the aforementioned Article 31 (3) of the Employment Law. You are eligible for full salary for the first 15 days of your sick leave. Thereafter, half salary for the next 30 days of sick leave and without any pay for any subsequent period of your sick leave.

Moreover, you must provide a medical certificate/report to your employer on availing sick leave within 3(three) from the date of you availing sick leave. This is in accordance with Article 31(1) of the Employment Law, which states, “An employee who contracts an illness that is not a work injury shall report his illness to his employer, or his representative, within a maximum of (3) three working days and shall submit a medical report about his condition from the medical institution."

In the event that you exhaust the stipulated 90 days of sick leave period as mentioned above, you may request the employer to combine sick leave with annual leave. If required, you may also request the employer to grant you unpaid leave due to your long-term sickness.

However, your employer may also terminate your employment, if you do not rejoin upon completion of applicable sick leave. This is in accordance with Article 31 (5) of the Employment Law, which states, “The employer may dismiss the employee if he fails to report to work, after exhausting his sick leave referred to in this Article, and the employee shall reserve all his entitlements pursuant to the provisions of this Decree-Law and its Executive Regulations.”

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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