A Guide on Statutory leaves in the United Arab Emirates

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    The leaves granted to employees working in the UAE under the labor law are as follows:

    • Annual leave
    • Sick leave
    • Maternity leave
    • Study Leave
    • Bereavement Leave
    • Parental Leave
    • Sabbatical Leave
    • Official national holidays

    Annual Leave policy in the UAE

    Article 29 of the new UAE Labor law states the following regarding Annual leave policy;

    The employee must be granted an annual leave during each year of service which may not be less than:

    1. Two days per month in respect of any employee with more than six months and less than one year of service.
    2. Thirty days per annum in respect of any employee whose period of service exceeds one year.”

    Employees working in UAE are entitled to an annual leave of 30 days for every year of service.

    Frequently asked questions

    1. Is annual leave in the UAE based on calendar days?

      Annual leave is calculated based on calendar days and includes any public holidays and weekends that fall within or any day taken due to illness if they fall within this period.

    2. Can the employer determine when the employee’s leave will be taken?

      Employers are entitled to determine when an employee can take their leaves.

    3. How are UAE national/public holidays that fall within an employee’s annual leave treated?

      Any holidays stipulated by law or by mutual agreement, that fall within an annual leave are treated as being part of the leave thereof.

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

      An employee leaving his employment, whether via termination or resignation is entitled for compensation through payroll of any outstanding leaves and it shall be calculated against the basic salary. In the case of employees whose service period is less than one year, the entitlement for compensation for unutilized leave days is calculated at an accrual of two days per month.

      See below sample calculation of leave balance at final settlement

    5. Can an employer terminate an employee who is on leave?

      No, employers cannot terminate the services of employees who are on annual leave

    Sick Leave policy in the UAE

    Sick leave is granted for 90 days per annum (calendar year) at the following rate

    • The first 15 days: with full pay.
    • The next 30 days: with half pay.
    • Any subsequent period to a maximum of 45 days: without pay.

    The article 31 of the UAE labor law states the following about sick leave:

    After the end of the probationary period, the worker may be entitled to a sick leave of not

    more than (90) ninety continuous or intermittent days per year, provided that it is

    calculated as follows:

    • first (15) fifteen days with full pay;
    • following (30) thirty days with half pay;
    • following period unpaid.

    See the following sample calculation simplifying the salary for an employee taking sick leaves.


    1. Can an employee who is on probation take a paid sick leave?

      No, as per article 31, a worker is not entitled to any paid sick leave during the probationary period. However, the employee may grant the employee a sick leave without pay based on the medical report issued by the medical entity that stipulates the necessity of granting the leave.

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

      Yes, an employer may terminate an employee as stipulated in article 31. This is subject to the fact that the worker is unable to report back to work due to permanent disability or terminal illness preventing him from performing his duties.

    3. What is the difference between sick leave unpaid and unpaid leave?

      The days taken after the first forty-five days are regarded as sick leave unpaid and are different from unpaid leave. The days falling under this type of leave are included when determining the service period of an employee. This leave does NOT impact the calculation of gratuity, outstanding vacation, air ticket payout or any other payroll accrual due to the employee.

    Maternity Leave policy in UAE

    A female employee working in UAE shall be entitled to maternity leave as given below.

    • 60 days out of which 45 days at full pay and 15 days at half pay for a female employee
    • After completion of the 60 days paid leave, a female employee is entitled to take unpaid maternity leave for a maximum period of 45 days. This leave can be continuous or taken in non-consecutive days.

    Frequently asked questions concerning maternity leave.

    1. Can an employee take extra leaves after exhaustion of her maternity leave?

      Yes, an employee on maternity leave can combine such with her outstanding annual leave if she so wishes. She is also entitled to take extra unpaid leave to a maximum of 45 days after completion of her paid maternity leave of 45 days full pay and 15 days half pay.

    2. Is the period taken for unpaid maternity leave included while determining the period of service?

      Yes, this period taken as unpaid maternity leave is included while determining the period of service and is counted while calculating gratuity at the end of service.

    3. Is a female employee entitled to any extra breaks post-delivery?

      During the first 6 months after a female has delivered and resumed back to work, she is entitled to two additional breaks not exceeding one hour a day to nurse her young baby. These breaks are treated as part of her working hours and not part of the normal break.

    Study Leave

    An employee, who is studying in one of the UAE’s certified educational institutions is entitled to a paid leave of 10 days per year to sit for examinations. To apply for this leave must have completed at least two years of service with the employer.

    Bereavement Leave

    In case of death of the husband or wife 5 days are entitled to the employee starting from the date of death and in case of the mother, father, son, brother, sister, grandson, grandfather or grandmother 3 days are entitled to the employee starting from the date of death.

    Sabbatical Leave

    The national worker shall be entitled to a sabbatical paid leave to perform the national service, in accordance with the legislation in force in the state.

    Parental Leave

    A Parental leave for a period of (5) five working days is entitled for the employee (either the father or the mother), who has a newly born child, in order to take care of his/ her child and the employee is entitled to such leave for a continuous or intermittent period, within (6) six months from the date of the child’s birth.

    UAE Public Holidays

    These are the public holidays in UAE.

    • Gregorian New Year: 1st January
    • Eid Al Fitr: From 29th day of Ramadhan to 3rd Shawwal*
    • Arafah Day: Dhu Al Hijjah 9th
    • Eid Al Adha; From 10 to 12 of Dhu Al Hijjah (Feast of Sacrifice)
    • Hijri New Year: 1 Muharram *
    • The Prophets Mohammed’s birthday; 12th of Rabi al Awwal
    • Commemoration day: 1st December
    • National Day: 2nd and 3rd December

    *Please note, Islamic holidays are determined according to moon sightings.


    UAE Annual leave – Granted for 30 calendar days per year

    Sick leave – Granted for 90 days per year as shown below;

    • 15 days at full pay
    • 30 days at half pay
    • Following 45 days with no pay

    Maternity leave –

    • 45 full paid days and 15 days half paid days if the employee has completed at 3 months after the probation period.
    • After completion of her paid maternity leave,  45 days of unpaid maternity

    Study leave – 10 working days per year provided that the service term at the employer is not less than two years.

    Bereavement leaves – 5 days in the event of the death of a spouse and 3 days in the event of the death parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

    Sabbatical Leave – paid leave to perform national service.

    Paternity Leaves – 5 working days either father or mother within 6 months from the child’s date of birth.

    For information on the payroll process in UAE click on this link


    Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, HLB HAMT will not accept any liability arising out of errors or omissions. Please note that this blog is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues/topics covered. It is subjected to change and not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion.

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