We told you a couple of months ago that maternity leave in the UAE – which stands at a pretty paltry 45 days – looked set to undergo a bit of an overhaul. 

Well, it already has, after it was announced last month that female government employees in Abu Dhabi would be handed an extra month of leave. Fathers also now get three days of paternity leave, plus new mums can leave work two hours early every day for a year.

Previously, mums were only entitled to two months of maternity leave and an hour a day to spend with their babies.

But what about Dubai and the rest of the Emirates?

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The government announced in August that they would be reviewing parental laws in order to provide women with a more supportive work environment. And, the good news is that everything looks to be on track after a group of officials got together on Tuesday for a workshop on the subject.

The committee, set up by the UAE Gender Balance Council, announced that they are definitely drafting a new law, and said they have provided some suggestions for how that law may look.

The maternity leave law is being treated as a top priority due to its positive impact on society, according to the Dubai Media Office.

Heading up the Gender Balance Council is Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who applauded the Abu Dhabi government for extending parental leave during the workshop. She also said all sectors “should work together to advocate a unified Federal law for maternity leave”, and added that the UAE government was “working to alter stereotypes about women”.

The workshop, which was attended by HR specialists and private sector workers as well as government officials, highlighted the difficulties of finding replacement for women on maternity leave.

Today, women account for 66 per cent of government jobs in the UAE, and they hold 30 per cent of the top positions.

The solution they’re suggesting? Setting up nurseries in workplaces to allow mums to go back to work sooner with the peace of mind that their babies are close by.

“The session was very productive, and included discussions about the successful implementation of various ideas and suggestions across several sectors, representing a positive step towards creating the new law,” said HE Mona Al Marri, Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office.

Hopefully we’ll have an update for you soon about what the new law will change..

WHAT’S THE SITUATION CURRENTLY LIKE IN DUBAI?

Recently, Dubai employees have been pressuring private companies to increase maternity leave from the current 45 days.

 
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As a result, one private company, Omnicom Media Group MENA, have recently increased their maternity leave to 90 days.

Materials handling provider company Chep also increased their leave period for new mothers to four months, allowing employees to extend it with their assigned paid and unpaid leave days.

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Image: Getty