A Guide on Statutory Leaves in the DIFC

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    The Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), established in 2004, is a prominent jurisdiction for financial and banking licenses with a strong foothold to reach expanding markets in the MENA market,

    Since its inception, the DIFC has been the location of several prestigious banks, financial institutions, and insurance firms that cater to a sizable clientele in the area. The fact that DIFC upholds international law has attracted several foreign investors to the region. DIFC also oversees the strategic expansion, operational management, and administration of Dubai’s financial firms.

    The leaves granted to employees working in the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) are as follows:

    • Annual Leave
    • Hajj Leave
    • Sick Leave
    • Maternity Leave
    • Paternity Leave
    • Public Holidays

    Annual Leave Policy in DIFC

    Article 30 of the DIFC Employment Law states the following regarding the vacation leave policy:

    An employee who has been employed for at least ninety (90) days is entitled to paid vacation leave for twenty (20) work days in each year.

    1. Is vacation leave in DIFC based on working days?

      Yes. Vacation leave is calculated based on working days in DIFC and is exclusive of public holidays to which an employee is entitled.

    2. Will an employee get their full salary on vacation leave?

      While on vacation, an employee is entitled to receive their full salary.

    3. What regulations apply to UAE public or national holidays that are included in an employee’s annual leave?

      Any holidays stipulated by law or by mutual agreement, that fall within a vacation leave are not treated as being part of the leave thereof, hence resulting in increasing the days of vacation.

    4. Can an employee carry forward their unused vacation leave in DIFC?

      For a maximum of twelve (12) months after which any unused vacation leave expires, an employee is permitted to carry forward up to five (5) working days of untaken leave into the subsequent vacation leave period.

    5. Will maternity leave affect the accrual of vacation leave in DIFC?

      During maternity leave, vacation leave will continue to accrue.

    6. Is it possible to convert vacation leave into sick leave if required?

      Vacation leave cannot be converted to sick leave if an employee becomes ill while on vacation leave unless otherwise agreed by an employer.

    7. Can an employee claim compensation for unutilized leaves at termination of contract?

      When an employee’s contract expired, the employer must pay the worker a sum in place of any unused vacation time that has accrued up to and including the date of termination.

    8. What will happen if the employee took more vacation leave than the accrued vacation leave?

      If the employee has taken more vacation leave than has accrued at the termination date, the employer shall be entitled to deduct this amount from the end-of-service calculation.

    Sick Leave

    Sick leave is a permitted absence from work because of illness, and it’s different from paid vacation leave since sickness deals with health matters.

    Sick leave is granted for 60 working days per year (calendar year) at the following rate:

    • The first 10 working days: with full pay.
    • The next 20 working days: with half pay.
    • Any subsequent period to a maximum of 30 working days: without pay.


    1. Is sick leave in the DIFC based on calendar days or working days?

      Sick leave is calculated based on working days and excludes weekly off days that fall within sick leave.

    2. Can an employer terminate an employee who has exhausted his sick leave and is unable to return to work?

      Yes, as stipulated in Article 36, an employer may terminate an employee. If an employee takes more than sixty working days of sick leave in one year, the employer may terminate the employment contract with immediate effect upon giving written notice to the employee. But this rule does not apply where an employee takes sick leave on account of a disability that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the employee’s ability to carry out duties for an employer.

    3. How are UAE national or public holidays that fall within an employee’s sick leave treated in DIFC?

      Sick leave is calculated based on working days, any holidays stipulated by law that fall within sick leave are treated as public holidays.

    4. Is there a distinction between unpaid sick leave and unpaid leave?

      The days taken after the first 30 working days are regarded as unpaid sick leave and are different from unpaid leave. When calculating an employee’s service duration, the days that qualify as this kind of leave are taken into account. This leave does not impact the outstanding vacation, air ticket payout, or any other payroll accrual due to the employee.

    Maternity leave in DIFC

    A female employee who has been continuously employed by her employer for at least 12 months may take maternity leave for up to sixty-five (65) work days at the following rate:

    • Full pay for first thirty-three (33) work days; and,
    • Half pay for the next thirty-two (32) days.


    1. Is maternity leave in DIFC based on calendar days or working days?

      Maternity Leave is calculated on working days, excluding weekly off days and any holidays covered by Maternity Leave.

    2. How many days of maternity leave are granted to female workers in DIFC?

      A female employee may take maternity leave for up to sixty-five (65) working days, out of which 33 working days will be fully paid leave and the rest 32 days will be half paid leave.

    3. Your “full pay” entitlement is your gross salary?

      The “full pay” to which you are eligible while on maternity leave is your gross income, which comprises both your base pay and any additional benefits.

    4. Is maternity leave applicable for the adoption of a child?

      The maternity leave provisions under Article 37 also apply to a female employee who is adopting a child who is less than five (5) years old, and, in such a case, references to childbirth in Article 37(2) are treated as references to the date of adoption.

    5. Will annual leave get accrued while employees are on maternity leave?

      Vacation Leave shall continue to accrue during Maternity Leave and, subject to the reasonable needs of the employer’s business, may be taken consecutively to Maternity Leave.

    6. Is an employee eligible to get compensation for unused maternity leave?

      An employee is not entitled to receive compensation in lieu of accrued but untaken maternity leave.

    7. Can an employer terminate an employee who is on maternity leave?

      An employee who is on maternity leave cannot be terminated by her employer.

    Paternity Leave in DIFC

    1. Who is eligible for paternity leave?

      A male employee may take paternity leave of up to five (5) work days if he has been continuously employed by his employer for at least twelve (12) months.

    2. Is paternity leave in DIFC based on calendar days or working days?

      Paternity Leave is calculated based on working days, excluding weekly off days and any holidays that fall within Maternity Leave.

    3. Is paternity leave applicable for the adoption of a child?

      Paternity Leave shall also be available to a male employee who is adopting a child who is less than five (5) years old and must be taken within a month from the date of the child’s birth or the adoption date of the child.

    4. Is an employee eligible for full pay during paternity leave in DIFC?

      An employee on paternity leave is entitled to receive full pay for 5 work days but will not be entitled to receive compensation in lieu of accrued but untaken paternity leave.

    5. How are national or public holidays that fall within an employee’s maternity leave treated in DIFC?

      Any public holiday falling on a work day during paternity leave shall be treated as additional leave having the effect of extending the paternity leave by the period of the public holiday.

    Hajj Leave

    A Muslim employee who has completed at least one (1) year of continuous employment with an employer shall be entitled to special unpaid leave not exceeding twenty-one (21) days to perform the Hajj pilgrimage once during the period of their employment with the employer.

    Public Holiday in DIFC

    1. Who is entitled to a public holiday?

      Every public holiday that is declared in the UAE by the appropriate relevant authority for the public sector or the private sector, whichever is pertinent to the employee’s employer and falls on a work Day, enables the employee to leave.

    2. Is there any deduction on pay for a public holiday in DIFC?

      An employer must pay an employee their daily wage for each public holiday.

    3. What will happen if an employee works on a public holiday?

      In addition to the day salary required by Article 32(2), the employer must provide one of the following benefits to an employee who accepts to work on a holiday:

      • A day of leave in lieu of each public holiday worked; or
      • Payment of an amount equal to the employee’s daily wage or
      • Payment of a portion of the employee’s daily salary that is prorated according to the time spent working on the public holiday.


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