UAE: 9 types of leaves and entitlements for employees in the private sector

UAE: 9 types of leaves and entitlements for employees in the private sector

Private sector employees in the UAE are entitled to annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave, compassionate leave, and leave to complete Hajj. Read about the provisions for each type of leave.

Annual leave

Employees are entitled to an annual leave if they have completed six months of service.

Annual leaves are granted in accordance with the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, the ‘UAE Labour Law’.


Employees are entitled to a fully paid annual leave of:

  • 30 days, if they have completed one year of service and
  • 2 days per month, if they have completed six months of service, but not one year.

Note that if the employee’s service is ended before he used his annual leave balance, he will get leave for a fraction of the last year of service.

Part-time employees are entitled to annual leave according to the actual working hours they spent at work, as specified in the employment contract, and in accordance with the ‘Executive Regulations of the Labour Law’.

Rules regarding using annual leaves

  • Employees must use their leaves in the year of entitlement. The employer may, in agreement with the employee set the dates of leave according to the work requirements. The employer must notify the employee of the date of the leave at least one month in advance.
  • The employee may, with the consent of the employer, and in accordance with the company’s regulations, carry over his annual leave balance to the next year. In this case, the employee will be entitled to be paid for the days he/she worked during the annual leave. The payment is calculated according to the basic salary.
  • The employer may not prevent the employee from using his accrued annual leave for more than two years. On termination of employment, any accrued leaves will be calculated on basic salary only.
  • The calculation of the duration of annual leave will include official holidays specified by law or by agreement, and any other leaves caused by sickness if they fall within the annual leave unless the employment contract or the company’s regulations have other provisions.

Sick leave

An employee is entitled to a sick leave of not more than 90 days per year, only after the end of the probationary period.

The 90 days’ sick leave can be continuous or intermittent, and the salary is paid as follows:

  • full pay for the first 15 days
  • half pay for the next 30 days
  • no pay for the rest 45 days.

However, during the probationary period, the employee may get sick leave without pay, subject to the approval of the employer and based on a medical report issued by the medical entity that stipulates the necessity of the leave.

Note: The above provisions are subject to conditions and do not apply to sick leave because of occupational illness.

On the other hand, the employee is ineligible for a paid sick leave in the following situations:

  • during the probation period
  • if the illness directly arises from the misconduct of the worker, such as the consumption of alcohol or narcotics
  • if the worker violated the safety instructions in accordance with the effective legislations in the UAE, and the rules set out in the firm's regulations, which the employee was informed of.

Notifying your employer of a sick leave

According to Article 31 of the UAE Labour Law, the employee must notify the employer about his sickness within a maximum of three days and submit a medical report on his condition, issued by the medical entity.

Can an employee be terminated on grounds of sickness?

An employer may not dismiss an employee or give him a termination notice while the employee is on sick leave. If the employee uses all of his 90 days’ sick leave and has not been able to report to work afterward, the employer may terminate his services. In such a case, the employee shall be entitled to the end-of-service benefits in accordance with the provisions of the labour law.

Read more on sick leave according to UAE Labour Law and its Executive Regulations (MoHRE).

Hajj and Umrah leave

Hajj leave

Employees may be granted special leave for the performance of Hajj under the provisions that the leave:

  • is given without pay
  • may not exceed 30 days
  • is granted only once during the employment duration with the company.

Umrah leave

The UAE Labour Law does not have any provisions which entitle the employee to Umrah leave. If the employee requests an Umrah leave, it is up to the employer to consent and deduct it from the employee’s annual leave or consider unpaid leave.

Maternity leave

Provisions of maternity leave

A female worker is entitled to a maternity leave of 60 days, out of which:

  • 45 days will be fully-paid leave
  • 15 days will be half-paid leave.

A female worker may apply for her maternity leave up to 30 days prior to the expected date of delivery.

In addition to the basic maternity leave above, she may take an additional 45 without pay, if she has an illness as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, and is unable to resume work. The illness must be proved via a medical certificate issued by the respective medical authority. These leave days can be consecutive or intermittent.

If the baby is sick or suffers from a disability, the female worker may take additional leaves of 30 days fully paid. This leave can be extended for additional 30 days without pay. The illness or disability of the child must be proved via a medical certificate issued by the respective medical authority.

After the female worker resumes work, she is entitled to one or two additional breaks each day for nursing her child. The duration of the two breaks must not exceed one hour. The woman is entitled to such breaks for 6 months following the date of delivery. Such breaks are fully paid for.

Read more provisions about maternity leave under Article 30 of the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector, the ‘UAE Labour Law’.

Parental leave

Employees of the private sector are entitled to a parental leave of 5 working days from the day of the birth of their child to six months. Parental leave is a paid leave that can be applied for by both mother and father of the baby.

It was introduced after the late H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the then President of the UAE, approved the amendments to the Labour Law in August 2020. The UAE is the first Arab country to grant parental leave to employees in the private sector. Read news coverage on WAM.

Study leave

Employees who have completed at least two years of service with an employer are entitled to a paid leave of 10 days per year to sit for examinations.

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, one must have completed at least two years of service with the employer.

Compassionate leave (Bereavement leave)

An employee of the private sector is entitled to:

  • a paid leave of five days in the event of the death of a spouse and
  • a paid leave of three days in the event of the death of a parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

Find out more information about leaves in the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations in the Private Sector.

Official leaves and vacations

As per Article 21 of the UAE labour Law, employees of the private sector are entitled to at least, one day of paid rest per week as specified in the employment contract or work regulations of the company. The company may increase the number of weekly rest days. Additionally, employees are entitled to paid leave on public holidays.

Also Read: How to Your Check Labor Card Online in the UAE

Working during official holidays or leave days

If an employee is required to work during holidays or leaves, he will be compensated with another rest day or be paid for that day, a wage as he would be paid on a normal day plus an addition of at least 50 percent on his basic wage. (Reference: Article 28 of the UAE Labour Law).

Sabbatical leave

As per 'UAE Labour Law', Emiratis working in the private sector are entitled to a paid sabbatical leave (extended break from work) to perform national service.

Read more:

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