Companies need more flexible policies, says Noura Al Kaabi.

Earlier this year, government employees had their paid maternity leave allowance extended from 60 to 90 days.

Private sector workers, however, are currently entitled to only 45 paid days—something one UAE minister is calling for companies to change.

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Noura Al Kaabi urged businesses to embrace more flexible policies during her appearance at the Naseba Global WIL Economic Forum, in a bid to keep women in the workforce.

“The most important thing is how each entity can be flexible in promoting that and giving women the choice of having a long or short maternity leave and having women come back where they are refreshed and ready to work,” the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development told The National.

“Women’s participation in the economy not only boosts development, it diversifies national economies and opens a nation up to new ideas and approaches.”

The minister added that compared to the public sector maternity policy, there is “more to be done on how we can encourage other entities to aspire to be more flexible”.

Under the new rules for government workers announced back in May, 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, and 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.

Last year, both Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah also overhauled their public sector maternity leave, giving women three months of paid leave.

In Abu Dhabi, fathers now also receive three days of paternity leave.

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Images: Noura Al Kaabi/Twitter