The new rules aim to improve the gender balance in the workforce.

Dubai ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has issued a new decree which will increase government employees’ paid maternity leave entitlement from 60 days to 90 days.

The changes, which were first announced in January and were enacted on Sunday, will apply retroactively from March 1.

According to a release from WAM, the government news agency, the decree aims to “promote a balance between career and family, support the rights of working women and provide a legal framework for enhancing gender balance.”

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Under the new rules, any full-time or part-time employee in a permanent position is entitled to 90 days’ maternity leave from their delivery date.

Women on maternity leave will receive their basic monthly salary. Weekends and official holidays are considered part of the leave period.

Workers can also apply to start their maternity leave 30 days before their due date, as long as the leave is taken continuously.

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The new legislation states that mums-to-be can combine maternity leave, regular annual leave, and leave without pay for a maximum of 120 days.

Female workers who suffer a miscarriage before the 24th week of their pregnancy are entitled to sick leave if a medical report is provided. If the employee has a stillbirth or miscarriage after the 24th week, she is entitled to 60 days’ maternity leave.

The new rules also cater for mothers who give birth to children with disabilities. They will be entitled to one year’s childcare leave, which is renewable up to a maximum of three years based on a medical report and approval from a senior official.

There are also provisions for workplace childcare facilities, with government entities obliged to establish a nursery if the number of children (under the age of four) of all female employees totals more than 20. If the total number of children is less than 20, two entities can join together to establish a nursery.

What about the private sector?

While there’s no word yet on a widespread law change, Dubai employees have been pressuring private companies to bump up maternity leave from the current 45 days.

As a result, Omnicom Media Group MEN and Dubizzle recently increased their maternity leave for new mothers to 90 days.

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

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Image: Getty