UAE's self-employment leave: Taking a sabbatical to start your business? Eligibility, salary, notice period; all you need to know

Can employees combine sabbatical and annual leave? Can employers cancel leave prematurely? Frequently asked questions explained

By Web Desk

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Published: Fri 6 Jan 2023, 12:57 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 Jan 2023, 4:40 PM

Starting January 2, 2023, the UAE government implemented the Entrepreneurship Leave for self-employment in the country. This year-long sabbatical leave will be granted to UAE citizens working in the government sector who wish to start their business ventures.

Emiratis will get 50 per cent of their salaries during this period. The leave will be approved by the head of the federal authority the employee works for and can be combined with unpaid leave and annual leave.

The aim is to encourage the youth to take advantage of the huge commercial opportunities offered by the country and empower national talents. Here's an explainer of some of the frequently asked questions regarding the sabbatical leave.

Does the self-employment leave include all employees?

All national and civil employees working in federal entities can apply for this leave, with the exception of employees of federal government-owned companies, employees of temporary contracts and part-time workers.

What is the period of service required of an employee to obtain the leave?

The employee's service period shall not be less than five years in the federal government or local governments in the event that he is transferred from a local entity to a federal entity.

What are the conditions required for an employee to obtain the leave?

The conditions are as follows:

1. The employee have a performance evaluation of a level of not less than 2 or its equivalent in his entity.

2. The total period of service of the employee in the federal entity or in a local entity shall not be less than five years. The period of service of the employee in a local entity is acceptable for calculation, whether the employee was transferred from a local government to the federal government, or he resigned from the local entity and was appointed in the federal government.

3. The employee has already performed his national service or has a proof of his position thereof.

4. The employee shall not serve his entity as a result of being delegated or assigned on a study mission, unless the employer decides otherwise.

What kind of financial support will be paid during the leave period?

The employee will receive 50% of his total monthly salary, excluding bonuses and allowances related to the job.

Is it a must to have performed the national service to obtain this leave?

Yes, it is. The employee shall perform the national service or have a proof of his position thereof.

Will the duration of the leave for self-employment be calculated within the years of the actual service period with the entity?

Yes, the employee continues to participate in the retirement fund, and the said leave is counted within the employee's years of actual service.

What is the notice period employees must serve after sabbatical leave is approved?

The notice period shall be a maximum of two months, and the head of the federal entity or his delegate may exempt or reduce the notice period for the employee, as required by the working interest in the federal entity.

Will the notice period be included in the leave period that an employee has obtained?

The notice period is not included in the period of Entrepreneurship Leave for self-employment granted to the employee.

Can employees combine sabbatical and annual leaves?

Yes, the employee may combine the Entrepreneurship Leave for self-employment with the annual leave he/she is entitled to, before the commencement of the Entrepreneurship Leave for self-employment.

What happens in case there are more applicants than the required percentage? What is the process of selection?

In the event of an increase in the number of applicants, the selection is made among employees based on those who meet more criteria than those mentioned in Item VI of the Projects Guide.

If the project is online business, can employees still apply for self-employment leave?

Yes, the employee who owns an online business project is entitled to an Entrepreneurship Leave for self-employment, provided that he obtains the necessary licences to practise the activity.

Does the organisation have the right to cancel the leave that was granted to the employee before its expiration date?

The employer shall not terminate the Entrepreneurship Leave and summon the employee after taking the leave, unless the approval of the employee has been obtained.

Can individuals planning modest start-up projects still apply for this leave?

Yes, the employee can apply for an Entrepreneurship Leave application based on a start-up project, provided that the project has obtained the necessary licences, or is in the process of registering and obtaining a licence.

If the project represents a company branch located outside the country, can employees still apply for leave?

Yes, the employee may apply for a leave if the main company has the necessary approvals, provided that the employee proves that he is an authorised agent, or that he has a role in managing or supervising the branch.

Can employees register a complaint in case they are not granted self-employment leave?

Yes, the employee may resort to the Grievances Committee and the Objections Committee in the federal government in accordance with the procedures specified in the executive regulations of the Human Resources Law in the federal government.


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