A Guide on Statutory leaves in the United Arab Emirates

David Kambo


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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
    • Special leaves (Hajj Leave)
    • Official national holidays

    Annual Leave policy in the UAE

    Article 75 of the 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 and on payroll in Dubai, 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 leave will be taken?
      Employers are entitled to determine when an employee can take their leaves. Article 76 provides the employer the right to divide the leave into not more than two periods.
    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. In the case of employees whose service period is more than six months and less than one year, the entitlement for compensation for unutilized leave days is calculated at an accrual of two days per month.
    5. See below sample calculation of leave balance at final settlement

    6. Can an employee work for another employer during their annual leave?
      No, a worker shall not work for another employer while on annual or sick leave provided for in article 88. Where his employer establishes that he has done so, he may terminate the worker’s services without notice and deny him the pay in respect of the leave period.
    7. What happens when an employee does not resume to work after end of annual leave?
      According to article 89, ‘Subject to the provisions of this Law, any worker who fails to resume work immediately after the expiry of his leave shall automatically forfeit his wage for the period of his absence, with effect from the day immediately following that on which the leave expires.’
    8. Can an employer terminate an employee who is on leave?
      No, employers cannot terminate the services of employees who are on annual leave as the law in article 90 states ‘Without prejudice to the instances in which an employer is entitled to dismiss a worker without notice or without the gratuity provided for in this Law, an employer shall not dismiss a worker or serve a notice of dismissal on him while the worker is on a leave provided for under this Section.

    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 maximum of 45 days: without pay.

    The article 83 of the UAE labor law states the following about sick leave:

    If the employee spends over three months after completion of the probationary period, in the continuous service of employer, and falls sick during this period, he becomes entitled to a sick leave not more than 90 days either continuous or intermittent per each year of service, computed as follows;

    • The first fifteen days with full pay
    • The next thirty days, with half pay
    • The subsequent period, without pay

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

    As written in article 84, no wage shall be payable for sick leave if the illness is a result of the worker’s misconduct (such as consumption of alcohol or narcotic drugs).


    1. Can an employee who is on probation take a paid sick leave?
      No, as per article 83, a worker is not entitled to any paid sick leave during the probationary period.
    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 85. 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. Would an employee get any salary after resigning due to illness?
      Yes, according to article 86, ‘Where a worker resigns his job, by reason of illness, before the lapse of the first 45 days of his sick leave and the government medical officer or the medical practitioner designated by the employer accepts the cause of resignation, the employer shall pay the worker the wage due in respect of the remainder of the first 45 days referred to.’This means that all paid sick leaves are payable whether an employee is in continuous service or has resigned.
    4. 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 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.

    • 45 days at full pay for a female employee who has completed at least one year in service.
    • 45 days at half pay for female employees who has not completed at least one year of continuous service.
    • After completion of the 45 days paid leave, a female employee is entitled to take unpaid maternity leave for a maximum period of 100 days. This leave can be continuous or taken in non-consecutive days.

    The provision for this leave is outlined in article 30 and reads as follows.

    A working woman is entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of forty five days including the time before and after delivery, provided that her continuous period of service with the employer should not be less than a year, but if a working woman has not completed the said period, the maternity leave shall be with half pay…. A working woman, on the expiry of the maternity leave, may discontinue work without pay for a maximum period of one hundred consecutive or intermittent days if such absence is due to illness which does not enable her to resume work…

    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 100 days after completion of her paid maternity leave of 45 days.
    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 18 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.

    Hajj Leave

    Hajj leave is taken by Muslims to go perform pilgrimage. It is a special leave granted for the performance of pilgrimage to the employee once throughout the service period. This leave does not exceed 30 days.

    1. Are employees on Hajj leave paid?
      Hajj leave is granted as an unpaid leave.

    Paternity Leave

    Paternity leave is not provided for under the UAE labor law.

    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 sighting.


    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 if employee has completed at least one year of continuous service
    • 45 days at half pay if a female employee has not completed at least one year of continuous service.
    • After completion of her paid maternity leave, a female worker, if she so chooses, is allowed by law to take an unpaid maternity leave which should not exceed 100 days.

    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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