Maternity laws in UAE to be reviewed

Author: Mark Williams | Date: 17 Aug 2016

Increase in paid leave and flexible working arrangements for new mothers on the agenda

A committee has been set up in the UAE to review the role of women in the workplace – and top of the agenda is maternity leave entitlement.
 
Under the guidance of the Gender Balance Council (GBC), the new committee aims “to provide women with a supportive work environment, in line with best international practices, and to activate the ‘Gender Balance Index’ across various sectors,” said a government statement.
 
The GBC is led by Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also president of the Dubai Women Establishment (DWE). She said the Emirati leaders have a vision to enhance the role of women across all sectors of society, and the index was an integral part of that plan.
 
"The UAE Gender Balance Council will take the necessary steps to ensure men and women have equal opportunities to participate in the development of the UAE," said Sheikha Manal. The GBC was established last year to reduce the gender gap across all government sectors in the country and promote gender balance in decision-making positions.
 
New mothers in the UAE currently receive 45 days’ paid maternity leave, which is lower than the 50 days offered in Oman and 10 weeks in Saudi Arabia.
 
Some organisations have independently increased maternity leave for their employees, including MENA Properties, which offers up to 60 days and flexible working hours.
 
While efforts are being made across the GCC to improve gender equality, a report by management consultancy A.T. Kearney earlier this year suggested there is still much work to be done to unlock women’s full potential to contribute to economic growth.
 
The prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has set the UAE a goal of becoming one of the world’s top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.