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How Long is Maternity Leave in the UAE?

April 11, 2023

If you’re a global employer with team members based in the UAE, it’s important to be aware of the labor laws, regulations, and entitlements of employees in the country — including maternity leave laws

Like most countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government has established maternity leave regulations that allow new mothers to recover from childbirth, bond with their babies, and adjust to their new roles as mothers. Offering maternity leave to employees is critical for ensuring the health and well-being of both mothers and their infants, as well as the family as a whole. 

In the UAE, maternity leave is a legally mandated employee benefit that provides job protection and compensation for working mothers during this critical time in their lives. This guide will cover everything employers need to know about maternity leave in the UAE.

Overview of the Maternity Leave Rules in the UAE

Let’s start by covering the basics of maternity leave in the UAE.

Legal Framework

The UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 1980, also known as the UAE Labour Law, mandates that female employees are entitled to maternity leave. This law applies to all female workers in the UAE, including those employed under limited-term contracts, part-time workers, and those who work in the free zones. 

Duration of Maternity Leave

The UAE Labour Law stipulates that female employees are entitled to 45 days of fully paid maternity leave, with an additional 15 days of half-paid leave. In the case of a difficult birth, the female employee may be entitled to an additional 15 days of fully paid leave. Working mothers can choose to begin their maternity leave up to 30 days before the date of delivery.

If the child is sick or has a disability, the mother may take an additional 30 days of fully-paid leave and a further 30 days of unpaid leave, as long as she provides a medical certificate from a recognized medical authority.

In 2019, the UAE Cabinet approved an amendment to the UAE Labour Law that extended the duration of maternity leave from 45 days to up to 90 days after factoring in unpaid or combined leave, including sick leave or annual leave. 

This new UAE Labour Law applies to all female employees in the UAE, regardless of whether they work in the private or public sector.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for maternity leave in the UAE, female employees must have completed a continuous period of service with their employer of no less than one year. If a female employee has not completed one year of service, she may still be entitled to maternity leave, but it might be unpaid.

Compensation During Maternity Leave

Female employees who are on maternity leave are entitled to full pay during their 45-day leave period. This means employers must pay their regular salary, including all allowances and benefits for the duration of the leave.

After that, mothers are entitled to a further 15 days of maternity leave at half pay.

The Recent Changes to UAE Maternity Laws

As mentioned in the previous section, the UAE federal government introduced some changes to maternity leave laws in the country in 2019 that have had a mostly positive impact on working mothers. 

Extended Duration of Maternity Leave

The extended duration of maternity leave has given new mothers more flexibility and time to adjust to their new life and establish the routines that will form the foundation for their work-life balance once they return to work.

Extension of Maternity Leave to Adoptive Mothers

Another recent change to the UAE Labour Law is the inclusion of adoptive mothers in maternity leave laws. Female employees who adopt a child under five years old are now entitled to 90 days of maternity leave. This change is a significant step towards recognizing and supporting adoptive parents in the UAE.

The Biggest Challenges for Working Mothers in the UAE

Despite the recent changes in UAE law designed to benefit working mothers, they still face some challenges in the country. 

Cultural and Societal Expectations

In the UAE, cultural and societal expectations often place a significant burden on working mothers. There is a prevalent belief that mothers should prioritize their role as caregivers over their careers, which can make it challenging for women to balance their work and family responsibilities. 

The pressure to conform to these expectations can be overwhelming, especially for first-time mothers or ones who lack access to childcare.

Limited Access to Childcare Facilities

Another significant challenge for working mothers in the UAE is the limited access to affordable and high-quality childcare facilities. Many working mothers struggle to find reliable and safe childcare options, which can impact their ability to maintain a steady work schedule. The high cost of childcare can also be a barrier for many low or middle-income families.

Work-Life Balance Challenges

Balancing work and family responsibilities is a common challenge faced by working mothers worldwide, and the UAE is no exception. The long working hours and demanding work culture can make it challenging for mothers to find a healthy work-life balance. This can lead to stress, burnout, and a negative impact on both their work and home lives.

Manage Maternity Leave in the UAE and Beyond

Hiring remote global talent has many advantages, but keeping track of labor laws and maternity leave rights in multiple countries at once can quickly become a legal minefield.

Fortunately, it’s never been easier to hire a global workforce while ensuring compliance with local regulations thanks to Employer of Record (EOR) organizations like Remofirst. An EOR takes care of global hiring, compensation, benefits, payroll, and more. This leaves startups and remote global companies with more resources to focus on what matters most, and business leaders can sleep easy at night knowing that legal issues are covered. 

For more information about hiring remote employees in the UAE, check out our UAE country guide.