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Paternity Leave in the UAE: What You Need to Know

April 6, 2023

Until recently, only public sector employees in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were entitled to three days of paid paternity leave after the birth of a child. However, male private sector employees weren’t entitled to any kind of parental or paternity leave, although some companies included an allowance at their discretion. 

A recent change in the UAE Labour Law has introduced a new paternity leave policy for male employees across all sectors. The new law — hailed as a first in the region — is seen as a significant step toward greater gender equality and worker empowerment, as it allows fathers to spend some time with their newborns and support new mothers. 

If you’re a global employer with team members in the UAE, it’s crucial to be aware of paternity leave rights and employee benefits to ensure that new fathers receive the leave they are entitled to. This article will break down everything you need to know about paternity leave laws in the UAE.

Paternity Leave Laws in the UAE

Let’s start by taking a look at the laws and policies related to paternity laws in the UAE.

Legal Basis for Paternity Leave in the UAE

In 2020, the UAE federal government approved the Federal Decree Law No. 6 of 2020 that introduced a new Article 74 to the UAE Labour Law (Federal Law No. (8) of 1980) requiring private companies to provide parental leave. 

The parental leave entitlement applies to both male and female employees working in the private sector in the UAE, apart from those working in the Dubai International Financial Centre or the Abu Dhabi Global Market (which are separate free zones with their own employment laws and regulations).

How Long Is Paternity Leave in the UAE?

New fathers in the UAE are entitled to five working days of paternity leave with full pay, which they can choose to take consecutively or at any time during the first six months after the birth of the child.

Eligibility Criteria for Paternity Leave in the UAE

All fathers in the UAE are entitled to paternity leave. However, if they wait more than six months to take it, they will no longer be eligible.

Paternity Leave Benefits in the UAE

Fathers receive full pay during the five-day paternity leave period. 

Does the Law Change with Multiple Births?

No — the five days of paid paternity leave remain the same regardless of the number of children the employee is expecting.

Evidence of Eligibility for Paternity Leave

Male employees in the UAE are not required to provide employers with documentation such as medical certificates. However, companies should do their own due diligence to ensure eligibility. 

How Does the New UAE Paternity Law Compare to Other Countries?

Although many have welcomed the UAE’s new paternity leave policy as a step in the right direction, five days is a relatively short amount of time compared to other countries. Let’s see how it stacks up against other countries around the world.

  • In Sweden, parents are entitled to 480 days of parental leave. For couples, that means each parent is entitled to 240 of those days. Plus, parents get an extra 180 days for each additional child in the case of multiple births.
  • In Norway, fathers are entitled to 15 weeks of paid paternity leave at 100% pay or 19 weeks of leave at 80% pay.  
  • In the US, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn or adopted child. However, there is no federal law mandating paid paternity leave, so it’s up to employers to decide whether to grant new fathers paid time off.

If you’re a global employer looking to hire top talent in the UAE, adjusting your paternity and maternity leave policies to align with global standards may make you a more attractive employer, particularly considering that a large percentage of the UAE population is made up of expats who may have different expectations. 

UAE Paternity Leave: Best Practices

Aside from complying with the minimum requirements set out in UAE labor laws, employers with team members in the UAE may want to consider the following best practices.

Consider Offering Longer Paternity Leave

Five days is not a long time for new families to bond or establish new routines. It also doesn’t allow working fathers to support new mothers or help them achieve a healthy work-life balance. 

Therefore, you might want to consider offering your employees more paternity leave. Not only will this make you a more attractive employer, but it can also boost employee well-being, improve productivity, and increase employee retention rates.

Communicate Your Paternity Leave Policy

Companies need to communicate their paternity leave policy to their employees so that they are aware of their entitlements. This should be included in the company’s employee handbook. 

Offer Additional Support

You can offer additional support to employees who take paternity leave — for example, providing them with resources for new fathers or offering flexible work arrangements, such as working from home, upon their return to work.

Ensure Compliance with UAE Paternity Leave and Employment Laws

Although you may choose to offer paternity leave that goes above and beyond the legal requirements in the UAE, it’s still important to know the rules to ensure compliance with them. 

Many global employers are now turning to employer of record (EOR) organizations like Remofirst to simplify the hiring and management of employees in the UAE, including compliance issues related to parental leave, compensation, benefits, and payroll

Head over to the Remofirst UAE country guide to learn more about how we can help you.