Annual leave and public holidays in the UAE – know them all

Annual Leaves & Public Holidays in the UAE

Last Updated on September 7, 2022 by user

Annual leave is a highly popular topic. Employees are usually unaware of the privileges they’re entitled to when working a full-time job. Questions usually arise around the topics of paid leave, rights of employees, official holidays and more.

Leave Entitlements

Every employee is entitled to leave based on the length of service. If you have worked for longer than half a year, but less then a whole 12 months, you are entitled to take two leave days each of those months. If you have worked a whole year, you are entitled to a month off. This is the minimum requirement as per UAE law, and you could still be entitled to public holidays depending on company protocol. 

Public Holidays

There are 6 main public holidays in the UAE. You are entitled to paid leave during these periods.

Eid Al Fitr: (Ramadan – Shawwal) These dates vary year to year based on the new moon crescent, which symbolizes the start of the new lunar month. 

New Years: January 1st.

Arafat Holiday: Usually takes place 70 days after the end of Ramadan. This is to symbolize the second day of haj or pilgrimage. This holiday starts before the day of Eid Al Adha. 

Eid Al Adha: (10-12 day of Dhu Al Hijjah) – This public holiday takes place for 3 days after the Arafat holiday. 

Hijri New Year: August 23rd – Marks the start of the Hijri year. 

Commemoration Day: December 1st – Recognizes the sacrifices of the Emirati martyrs who have given their life for the line of duty abroad. 

National Day: December 2-3 – Marks the day of unity between all the emirates and the creation of the UAE. 

(Your annual leave will be deducted by official holidays as specified by law or the agreement between you and the company.)

Employee Pay on Leave

Employees are entitled to their basic wage plus housing allowance if applicable as per law.

When Does Annual Leave Start?

Your employer determines when your annual leave will start and end. They are also permitted to divide annual leave in two parts should they deem necessary. 

Furthermore, your employer can reduce or remove your annual leave once per year based on their work requirements. If this reduction of your annual leave has not been carried over to the next working year, you are entitled to your wage plus leave allowance for all the days worked. 

Your employer can only defer your annual leave once every two years and will have to pay you annual leave wages during that time frame. Thus, you should never be asked to work during annual leave more than once every two years. 

(Your annual wage should be paid in full before your leave starts. This includes your wage plus annual leave wages.)

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Annual Leave Wages incase of Termination

Employees are entitled to their annual leave wages if the employment is terminated or if they were fired after the period of notice determined by law. If you haven’t taken your annual leave wage, you are entitled to collect. This is calculated by the basis of wages received at the time your leave was due.