UAE Women Health: Key changes to maternity rights

The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has proposed longer maternity leave. The proposal is for a three-month period (one month before delivery and two months after) for women working in the government sector, told chairperson of the General Medical Committee Dr Atef AbdulLateef Saleh in an interview with Khaleej Times.

Though just in the proposal stages, the legislation is good news for expectant mothers. Maternity and paternity leave for government employees is a welcomed change and a step forward in defense of the rights of working women who will be able to take time post-pregnancy to care for their newborn and develop a strong mother-child bond.

The new amendments to the UAE Labor Law Surrounding Pregnancy-Maternity leave and compensation will ease the financial hardship and the personal pressure to get back to the workplace quickly from taking maternity/parental leave given that new mothers will be compensated while on parental leave and will go back to the exact terms of their previous employment.

Current UAE’s Maternity Leave Length. Maternity leave in the UAE varies between the private (45-days), the public sector (60-days), and government and companies in the DIFC (65-days). Sharjah is the first emirate to extend the maternity leave from 45 in line with the UAE Labor Law to 60 days, as told at

Unfortunately, maternity leave in the UAE is among the lowest in the world when compared to other countries and this has been a major point of contention for women; some have gone as far as take legal action.

Of course, some employers have their own minimum/maximum days off for both maternity and paternity leave. For example, mothers who have worked for a company for at least a year may receive more than what is mandated by UAE law.

Maternity Benefits: Pay and Conditions. Mothers-to-be are entitled to full paid maternity leave; the employer must pay maternity pay at the employee’s normal daily wage for a period of forty-five days per year, which includes the period before and after the delivery, if she has been continuously employed for at least one year. If she has less than one year of employment she will have her paid maternity leave be reduced by half.

When it comes to supporting working mothers, the Labour Law provides the minimum obligations; however, “an employer is, of course, free to offer a longer period of paid or unpaid at their discretion,” as noted in a post on the “rules and rights for mums-to-be”. According to the law, additional days for ill health (i.e., having any sort of complications related to the pregnancy or following the birth of a child) can be given to improve condition. A medical practitioner’s certificate will need to show the new mother’s employer the reason for her absence from work.

Maternity leave related entitlements: Again working mothers are able to return to work in the same role or a suitable alternative on the same terms and conditions.

An expecting mom having a baby or adopting a child should be aware of the company’s policy that provides further guidance about her statutory rights, eligibility and how to take leave.

A mother is entitled to additional breaks each working day not to exceed half an hour with no deduction in wages for nursing.

Preparing for maternity leave: it is important to notify the company about the expected or actual birth date, weeks in advance before the day she proposes to begin her maternity leave.

Taking time off of work for pregnancy-related doctor’s appointments to attend prenatal examinations is normal, so, under the regulations, the employer is obligated to allow intermittent leave for this to happen.

The right to take ‘parental leave’: fathers-to-be who are employed are entitled to fatherhood leave. In other words, men may take leave to provide “psychological comfort and reassurance” to their spouses. That way, he can care for his wife who is incapacitated (due to pregnancy or child birth) or in cases of the partner undergoing complications or else, worse, suffers from miscarriage. Unfortunately, it is left to the employer to decide whether or not to provide time off for the employee to take his wife to the prenatal appointments. But, what is less clear is whether the hubby can claim leave to attend the prenatal visits before and after the baby is born under the firm’s time off policies, under conditions related to take care of important personal or family business.

UAE, Women rights, maternity, pregnancy
Credit: Sarah Dea / The National

One thought on “UAE Women Health: Key changes to maternity rights

  • September 30, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    This is a great move and big relief for pregnant working women. The maternity leave extension will definitely help the new born baby and mother too.


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