Parental leave and extension of equal pay amendments to UAE Labour Law

Federal Decree Law No. 6 of 2020 (“the Decree”) was issued by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, and implemented on 25th September 2020. The Decree amends and extends the law governing the private sector to include parental leave as well as expanding on the equal pay provisions already enshrined in the law.

Parental leave

The Decree introduces Article 74 to the UAE Labour Law No. 8 of 1980 (“UAE Labour Law”) which provides for five working days of parental leave, to be taken six months from the birth date of the child. The portal of the UAE Government further clarified that “the parental leave is a paid leave that can be applied for by both mother and father of the baby”. However, the practical application of this addition has the effect of adding five working days to the mothers already mandated 45 days paid maternity leave, who may use these additional days within six months of birth.

The UAE has not officially recognized paternity leave previously; thus, the addition of the parental leave clause does offer some acknowledgement of the joint parental obligation over a baby's care with a father also able to use these five days paid leave within six months of the birth of his child.

Equal pay

Article 32 of UAE Labour Law previously stated that “a female wage shall be equal to that of a male if she performs the same work” which has now been amended by the Decree to include “or for work of equivalent value”. The Ministry of Human Rights and Emiratisation (“MOHRE”) is to propose procedures, limitations and accompanying standards required for evaluation of what work is deemed “of equivalent value”.

The value of the extension shall depend on the proposals of MOHRE and the mechanisms that are put in place to assist employees, potentially underpaid due to their gender, laying a complaint against their employer without fear of repercussions.

The Decree indicates some improvement in gender equality in the UAE, and we look forward to the forthcoming UAE Cabinet resolution, which has the potential to assist in addressing and resolving issues regarding gender equality in the workplace in the UAE.

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This article is based on publicly available information and given for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or as a comprehensive analysis of the matters referred to herein.

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