Leave policy in UAE

Leave policy in UAE
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The United Arab Emirates is one of the most progressive countries in the Middle East. Besides having vital resources for efficient remote working conditions, it also has a generous leave policy.

Although the employment laws firm on the leave policy in UAE, it permits employers to be flexible. Sometimes, employers can develop internal leave policies and grant or refuse leave requests. You can also add unique leave options like adoption or family care leave in UAE

There’s a thin line between exercising your rights to be flexible with these laws and breaking them. Perhaps, the most effective way to comply is partnering with a global employer of record like Skuad. Explore the leave policy in UAE and how it can affect your international business expansion.

Public holidays

There are eight public holidays in UAE. This Arab country observes some of these occasions for multiple days. Meanwhile, the Islamic holidays depend on moon sightings, which means some dates may change annually. The following are the dates for 2023.

Date Holiday Name
January 1 New Year's Day
April 20-23 Eid al-Fitr
June 27 Arafat Day
June 28-30 Eid al-Adha
July 21 Islamic New Year
September 29 Birthday of Prophet Muhammad
December 1 Commemoration Day
December 2-3 National Day

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Annual leave

Workers are entitled to annual leave in UAE if they have worked for at least six consecutive months for the same company. After six months of continuous work, employees get two days of annual leave. Working for at least a year gives employees 30 days of annual leave with full pay.

Part-time workers can also get annual leave. However, the conditions and number of days depend on their employment contract.

An employee can move their annual leave forward to the following year. They can also use the leave days they accrued for more than two years.

Depending on the employment contract, the employer may set the annual leave dates for their staff. The annual leave overrides any other holiday or leave that coincides with it.

Maternity leave

There are different rules for maternity leave in UAE for the public and private sectors. In the public sector, pregnant females will get three months of maternity leave upon delivery. This comes with full payment. Maternity leave for federal workers depends on the location within the UAE.

  • Abu Dhabi. Maternity leave is three months with full pay, while the breastfeeding break is two hours for one year.
  • Dubai. Female employees working for the Dubai government get three months' leave. Employees can request a 30-day maternity leave before delivery. They can also add their annual leave to maternity leave up to a maximum of 120 days. Employees who deliver babies with special needs will get childcare leave in UAE. It starts at the end of the maternity leave and ends when the child becomes a year old.
  • Ras Al Khaimah. Maternity leave in Ras Al Khaimah is 90 days, and for one year from childbirth, an employee gets two hours daily to breastfeed.
  • Sharjah. Employees working for the government in Sharjah get 120 days of maternity leave. The employee only receives payment for the first 90 days, while they receive no payment for the remaining 30 days.

Female employees in private organizations are entitled to 60 days of maternity leave. They get their full salary for 45 days, while the remaining 15 days are half-paid. However, they can request this leave 30 days before the expected delivery date.

The employee can also take additional 30 days off if the child suffers health complications after birth. This leave is fully paid. If the health challenge persists, the employee may get an additional 30 days of leave without pay.

Breastfeeding break

Government employees resuming work after maternity leave will get a two-hour reduction in their working hours for four months. They can observe this break at the beginning of the workday or the end. This is called the breastfeeding break in the United Arab Emirates.

Female employees in the private sector get a maximum of two breastfeeding breaks daily. These fully-paid breaks must not be more than one hour in total. Breastfeeding breaks begin when the employee resumes work and last for six months.

Paternity leave

The UAE remains the first Arab country to initiate parental leave in the private sector. Before his passing, former president, H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, amended this leave policy in the labor code in 2020.

Paternity leave applies to male government employees with a newborn child. This is a three-day paid leave the employee can take during the delivery month.

Meanwhile, a male employee in the private sector who wants paternity leave can do so by taking parental leave. Parental leave in UAE is for both males and females working in the private sector. This leave allows a new parent to spend time bonding with their infant from the delivery date.

Parental leave in this country is for five working days with full pay. Individuals can take this leave from the child’s delivery date till they turn six months old. When new mothers take this leave, it doesn’t affect their maternity leave entitlements.

Study leave

Employees who need time off work for academic purposes may get study leave. Study leave in the UAE is a 10-day fully paid period. The purpose is to permit employees to prepare for and take exams. To get this leave, two conditions apply;

  • The institution is an accredited learning facility in the UAE
  • The worker must have worked with the organization for at least two years

Sick leave

Individuals working for a company are entitled to sick leave in UAE if they are unhealthy. Before taking sick leave, employees must inform the employer of their health condition within three days of the illness. A medical report from a licensed medical practitioner is necessary to take this leave.

Employees can take up to 90 days off in a year to address their health concerns. Sick leave can be paid or unpaid, depending on the length of the leave. Employees will get their full salary for the first 15 days off. They will get half their salary for the next 30 days off and no pay for the remaining 45 days.

Workers may forfeit paid sick leave due to self-harm or if the illness occurred during probation.

Sabbatical leave

Sabbatical leave in the United Arab Emirates affords employees time to perform their civic duties. This is paid leave for both government employees and private-sector workers. It is an extended break from work to allow UAE nationals to partake in various initiatives to preserve the nation’s identity. These activities range from youth empowerment programs to military service.

The UAE constitution mandates all citizens to enlist in the military before turning 30. The law compels employers to allow their workers to enlist in these programs when they make an official request. At the end of their military service, working UAE nationals will receive pension benefits.

Bereavement leave

The labor legislation in this country makes provision for workers to take compassionate or bereavement leave. Bereavement leave in UAE gives employees time to grieve their loss and arrange burial rites.

Although the labor law recognizes this leave, employees in the private sector are not entitled to bereavement leave. The employer decides whether to grant workers leave after they make an official request. If the employer grants the request for leave, the employee will get the following;

  • Five days of fully paid leave in the case of a spouse’s death
  • Three days of fully paid leave in the case of a close relative’s death. Examples of close relatives by law include a child, parent, sibling, grandparent, or grandchild.

Pilgrimage leave

Religious travels or pilgrimages are everyday activities among UAE nationals and residents. The labor code gives employees the right to engage in this practice. Although there are various pilgrimage options for Muslims in the UAE, the law only recognizes two leaves: Hajj and Umrah.


The labor code makes it mandatory for employers to grant their workers leave for Hajj. An employer can grant leave for Hajj under the following conditions;

  • The leave must not exceed 30 days
  • Employees cannot demand payment during this period
  • The employee can only get this leave once throughout their time working for the company


Although the labor code recognizes Umrah, the conditions are different from Hajj. According to the labor law, employees have no right to this pilgrimage leave. Taking this leave depends entirely on the employer’s discretion.

If an employee wishes to take this leave, they must make an official request to their employer. If the employer grants the request, they do so under two conditions;

  • The employer deducts Umrah leave from the employee’s annual leave, or
  • The employee takes Umrah leave without pay

Manage leave policy in UAE with Skuad

Complying with local employment laws while balancing your staff strength can be challenging. Speak to our experts to discover how we can design a strategic leave policy that allows you to maintain productivity while complying with local legislation.

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