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UAE amends Labour Law to provide for Paternity Leave and Equal Pay

UAE amends Labour Law to provide for Paternity Leave and Equal Pay

The President of the UAE promulgated the Federal Decree-Law No. 6 of 2020 (the Decree) which amends Federal Law No. 8 of 1980 on the Regulation of Labour Relations (as amended), also known as the UAE Labour Law and introduced two new amendments. The Decree was proclaimed on 25 August 2020 and took effect on 25 September 2020. The amendments incorporate fair treatment regarding pay and parental leave for male and female employees.

The first amendment was made to Article 32 of the Labour Law. The earlier provision stated that a woman shall be paid the same salary as a man if she performs similar work. The new provision mandates that a woman must be paid the same as a man if she performs the same work or work of equal value. Besides, the Cabinet is enabled to promulgate detailed regulations on the subject of equal value, based on the recommendations and proposals of the Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation. Such regulations may be required to set fair value assessment parameters; they could also set out forms of recourse for aggrieved workers and provide for punishments for breaches.

The second amendment relates to Article 74 of the Labour Law. This clause specified the UAE's official holidays when it was originally implemented in 1980. It was abolished in 2017, and a new and slightly updated list of official holidays was adopted by a Cabinet Resolution. Article 74 has since been redesigned to resolve the problem of parental leave, granting every employee regardless of their gender, the ability to take parental leave for five paid days at any time from the birth of a new child before the child reaches the age of six months. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are the only GCC countries to provide paternity leave to private sector employees, with the UAE paving way for the most generously paid paternity leave policy.

This right is in addition to the provisions on maternity leave given to female employees which appear in Article 30 of the Labour Law and which remain unchanged. Furthermore, this right will attach immediately upon commencement of employment.

This is welcome news for all working parents and female employees and represents the status of the UAE as a modern and forward-looking jurisdiction with a strong emphasis on equality in the workplace.