Paternity leave in UAE. Revolutionizing Fatherhood

by Sandhya B

Introduction to Paternity Leave in UAE

Paternity leave in the UAE marks a significant stride toward family-friendly workplace policies. This policy recognizes the essential role fathers play in the early days of a newborn's life and underscores the nation's commitment to supporting family welfare and gender equality in the workplace.

Understanding Paternity Leave

Paternity leave refers to the time off from work that a father is entitled to after the birth of his child. This period allows him to support his partner and bond with his newborn. It is crucial for the emotional and physical well-being of the family, providing fathers with the opportunity to be actively involved in early childcare responsibilities.

The Significance of Paternity Leave for Families

Paternity leave is profoundly important for families. It promotes a balanced division of child-rearing duties and supports the mother's recovery post-childbirth. It fosters a stronger bond between the father and the child, contributing to the child's development and the overall harmony of the family unit.

Recent Changes in Paternity Leave Policies

The UAE has made progressive amendments to its paternity leave policies, reflecting an evolving understanding of family dynamics and the benefits of paternal involvement in early childhood. These changes aim to enhance family well-being, encourage shared parenting responsibilities, and support the country's vision of a more inclusive and supportive working environment for parents.

What is the Paternity Leave in UAE

The law on paternity leave in the UAE was a significant update to the country's labor policies, reflecting a modern approach to work-life balance and family welfare. Here’s a brief overview of the law:

  • Paternity Leave Duration: Fathers working in the private sector are entitled to 5 days of paternity leave, to be taken consecutively or intermittently, within six months from the date of the child's birth.
  • Public Sector Benefits: The entitlement is more generous for the public sector. Federal government employees are granted paternity leave per the specific regulations applicable to their employment, which, in some cases, could be more than what is offered in the private sector.
  • Legislation Update: This provision was introduced as part of the significant amendments to the UAE Labour Law, specifically through Federal Decree-Law No. 6 of 2020 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (the "New Labour Law") and its subsequent resolutions and ministerial orders detailing the implementation of such leaves.
  • Objective and Benefits: The law aims to support familial bonds from the earliest stages of a child's life, promote gender equality in caregiving responsibilities, and aid in the mother's postnatal recovery.
  • Eligibility and Application: 
  • This law positions the UAE as one of the leading Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in recognizing the importance of paternity leave. It reflects progressive thinking towards work-life balance and gender equality in parenting responsibilities. Always check for the most current information or any further amendments to the law.

What is the Eligibility Criteria for Paternity Leave in UAE

Paternity leave in the UAE is a progressive measure designed to support new fathers in their pivotal role within the family unit, particularly during the early stages of their newborn's life.  

The eligibility criteria for this leave are tailored to ensure that fathers who are actively employed and seeking to participate in early childcare have the opportunity to do so. This reinforces the country's commitment to fostering work-life balance and family well-being. 

Who Qualifies for Paternity Leave?

    To qualify for paternity leave in the UAE, an individual must meet specific criteria, primarily centred around their employment status and relationship to the newborn. Here are the essential qualifications:

    1. Employment Status: The individual must be employed in the UAE, either in the private or public sector, depending on the specific provisions applicable to each sector.
    2. Father of the Newborn: The applicant must be the biological father of the newborn child.
    3. Notification and Documentation: The father must notify his employer within a reasonable timeframe and provide the necessary documentation to apply for paternity leave, such as the child's birth certificate.
    4. Duration of Employment: Some policies may require the father to have been employed with the company for a certain period before being eligible for paternity leave. This duration varies by employer and sector.
    5. Within the Time Frame: Leave must be taken within six months from the child's birth, allowing fathers to use the leave flexibly during this period.

    Required Documentation

    Fathers must submit certain documents to apply for paternity leave in the UAE as part of their application process. The required documentation typically includes:

    1. Child's Birth Certificate: This is an official birth certificate of the newborn, confirming the child's birth and parentage.
    2. Employment Contract: A copy of the current employment contract may be required to verify the father's employment status and eligibility under the regulations of the specific sector.
    3. Notification to Employer: Written notification or a formal request for paternity leave, submitted according to the employer’s policy, often specifying the intended start date of the leave.
    4. Marriage Certificate: Some organizations might require a marriage certificate to establish the relationship between the employee and the child’s mother.
    5. Passport Copies: Please provide copies of the passports of the father, the mother, and the newborn, especially in cases where nationality or residency status is relevant to the leave entitlement.

    Employers may have additional requirements or forms to complete, so employees should check with their HR department or employer for any specific documentation beyond these general guidelines.

    Benefits and Duration of Paternity Leave

    Paternity leave in the UAE represents a significant advancement in recognizing the importance of fatherhood and promoting gender equality in childcare. This progressive policy offers numerous benefits, emphasizing the well-being of the family unit.

    How Long is Paternity Leave in UAE?

    • Private sector employees in the UAE receive five days of paternity leave.
    • Paternity leave can be taken within six months from the child’s birth.
    • It can be used consecutively or spread out.
    • Public sector policies may differ regarding the duration of paternity leave.

    Read about maternity leave in UAE

    Salary and Compensation During Leave

    During the paternity leave period, fathers are entitled to their full salary, ensuring financial stability while they focus on their family responsibilities. This provision encourages fathers to take their full leave entitlement without worrying about a loss of income, fostering a supportive environment for the family’s newest addition.

    Additional Benefits and Support for Fathers

      Besides the statutory leave period and salary compensation, the introduction of paternity leave brings with it a broader understanding of paternal needs, potentially including:

      • Flexible Working Arrangements: Some employers offer additional flexibility in working hours or the option to work from home, helping fathers to transition back to work gradually.
      • Parental Support Programs: Access to parenting workshops, counselling services, and family health initiatives can be part of the support offered to fathers, acknowledging that their well-being is crucial for the family’s overall health.
      • Extended Leave Options: While not mandated, some organizations may offer extended unpaid leave, allowing fathers to spend more time with their newborn if they wish. This demonstrates a commitment to employee welfare beyond the statutory requirements.

      How to Apply for Paternity Leave in UAE

      The Application Process Step by Step

      1. Review Company Policy: Review your employer's paternity leave policy to understand the specific requirements and timelines.
      2. Gather Required Documentation: Typically, this includes the child's birth certificate, a formal paternity leave request, and possibly additional documents such as your employment contract or marriage certificate.
      3. Submit Leave Request: Complete any required forms and submit your paternity leave request along with the necessary documentation to your HR department or direct supervisor, adhering to the advance notice period specified by your employer.
      4. Await Approval: Your employer will review your application for compliance with the law and company policy before approving.
      5. Plan Your Leave: Once approved, plan the specifics of your leave, including start and end dates, with your supervisor to ensure a smooth transition of work responsibilities.

      Employer Considerations and Approval

      Employers evaluate paternity leave requests based on legal compliance and operational needs. Approval is straightforward, provided the request meets all legal and policy requirements. Employers may also consider workload distribution and project timelines to ensure minimal disruption during the leave period.

      Common Issues and How to Address Them

      • Documentation Delays: If you are delayed in obtaining the birth certificate or other documents, communicate proactively with your employer and provide an estimated timeframe for submission.
      • Approval Delays: If you encounter delays in leave approval, follow up respectfully with HR or your supervisor, reminding them of the legal timelines and your planned leave dates.
      • Work Handover Concerns: To address concerns about ongoing projects, propose a handover plan to a colleague or suggest temporary adjustments to work deliverables.
      • Extending Leave: If you wish to extend your leave, discuss this with your employer as early as possible, providing justification and understanding that the paternity leave policy may not cover additional time off.

      Conclusion: The Growing Importance of Paternity Leave

      The significance of paternity leave in the modern workplace cannot be overstated. As societies progress, there's a growing recognition of fathers' vital role in the early stages of a child's life.  

      The UAE's embrace of paternity leave policies underscores a broader shift towards inclusive, family-friendly employment practices that support work-life balance and gender equality. This evolution reflects an understanding that family well-being and the equitable distribution of parenting responsibilities are fundamental to society's health and development. 

      Moreover, paternity leave offers tangible benefits to employers, including enhanced employee satisfaction and loyalty, reduced turnover rates, and a more motivated workforce. As we move forward, the continued expansion and enhancement of paternity leave policies will likely play a key role in attracting and retaining top talent, promoting happier, more balanced lives, and ultimately contributing to a more prosperous and equitable society.

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      Paternity and maternity leave. Questions? Answers.

      Yes, after the initial period, you may extend your maternity leave using unpaid leave, annual leave, or a combination, subject to your employer's policies.

      You may be entitled to additional leave if you can provide a medical certificate from a certified health authority or practitioner in the UAE, detailing the need for further rest.

      Currently, the UAE's labor law does not explicitly cover maternity leave for adoption or surrogacy, but some employers may offer it at their discretion.

      The UAE Labor Law protects women from dismissal due to pregnancy or maternity leave. You cannot be lawfully terminated for taking your maternity leave

      You're still entitled to maternity leave, but with half pay if you have not completed a full year of service by the start of your maternity leave.

      Some sectors, like the federal government, specify extended maternity leave for multiple births, offering an additional 30 days on top of the standard 90 days.

      Yes, fathers are typically allowed to combine paternity leave with annual or unpaid leave, subject to approval from their employer.

      Maternity leave in free zones is generally based on the employee's contract and the specific free zone's regulations, not their nationality. Expatriate women typically have access to the same benefits as their Emirati counterparts within the same employment context

      Part-time workers’ maternity and paternity leave benefits are typically prorated based on their working hours, as long as they meet the eligibility criteria set forth by their employer and the governing labor laws.