The risk of burnout as an employee has become prevalent due to ever-increasing workload. Annual leaves allow you to take a break from your high-pressure work environment, recuperate, and maintain peak performance. This article provides a comprehensive guide to annual leaves in the UAE to help you achieve a better work-life balance.

An annual leave entails employees taking paid time off work yearly based on the terms of their employment contract. It’s guaranteed in the UAE by the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) of 2021, which stipulates 30 days off once an employee completes one year of service.

What is Annual Leave? Annual leave is a time off from work guaranteed by the law to employees across various jurisdictions, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yearly. It allows you to rest at home, travel on holidays, or visit family and friends. The goal is to provide a break from the demands of your work environment and rejuvenate yourself for better performance upon resumption.

Important Considerations about Annual Leaves in UAE

Here’s a breakdown of the important points:

Duration: Article 29 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) of 2021 states every worker is eligible for a fully paid annual leave of 30 days if they have completed one year of service. But those who have completed six months are eligible for two days each month. Also, if your employer terminates your service before you’ve exhausted your annual leave balance, you get leave for a fraction of your final year of service.

Notification: The law requires employers to notify the workers of their leave at least a month before the date to ensure that employees can plan their time off effectively.

Flexibility: With your employer’s approval, you can carry out unused leave days to the following year. If you accumulate annual leave for more than two years, Article 29 also grants you the option to receive a cash payment instead of taking a break. This flexibility benefits both you and your employer.

Note: The law also grants annual leave to part-time workers. But the time spent working and the employer’s discretion determines the duration, as outlined in the employment contract.

Types of Leaves in the UAE

The UAE’s labour laws encompass various other leave categories. These leaves cater to specific events that may affect your availability or productivity as an employee. Here are some of these specialized leave categories:

Sabbatical Leave

Like annual leave, a sabbatical break is a paid time off work. However, unlike the annual leave, only Emirati workers are eligible for this leave. While the sabbatical leave is commonly linked to academia, it serves a different purpose here.

Purpose: Article 32 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) grants national workers sabbatical leave for national service. According to the relevant legislation, national service lasts between 11 months and three years and is a mandatory commitment for males and optional for females. Workers must provide proof from relevant authorities to obtain this leave.

Study Leave

Advancing in one’s career is a common aspiration for most employees in any business sector. A reliable strategy to secure consistent upward progress is through continuous study and personal development, a path available to workers in the UAE as well.

Entitlement: According to Article 32 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33), workers with at least two years of service can take ten working days per annum to sit for exams at approved educational institutions in the UAE.

Compassionate Leave

Death is a paradigm-shifting event that has a marked effect on the mental and physical well-being of those connected to the deceased. As such, the UAE employment law makes a provision for workers to take time off work to mourn and make burial or cremation arrangements.

Entitlement: Article 32 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) grants workers compassionate or bereavement leave. In the event of the death of a spouse, it’s five days. For a child, sibling, parent, or grandparent, it’s three days, starting from the day of death.

Hajj and Umrah Leave

Pilgrimage is one of the five pillars of Islam, and every Muslim must undertake it at least once in their lifetime. Islamic authorities consider Hajj (the pilgrimage to Makkah) the most essential expedition and a valid reason to take time off work in the UAE.

Entitlement: According to the UAE’s official website, private sector employees can take up to 30 days for Hajj, but unlike other leaves, it’s unpaid and granted only once during their employment.

Note: While Hajj leave is legally mandated, Umrah has no such provisions. Workers planning Umrah must arrange unpaid leave or deduct the days from their annual leave.

Maternity Leave

Like deaths, births are paradigm-shifting events that affect a parent’s mental and physical well-being. It’s particularly evident with women who experience postpartum ailments like hormonal imbalances and depression. This is why the UAE labour laws make provision for substantial maternity leave:

Entitlement: Article 30 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 grants female workers a 60-day maternity leave, with 45 days at full pay and 15 days at half-pay.

Complications: If childbirth-related complications arise, an additional 45 days of unpaid leave is available. Similarly, the employer can grant a paid 30-day leave if the baby is sick or suffers a disability, with the option to extend it for another 30 days without pay.

Breastfeeding: After returning to work, new mothers have an entitlement to one or two daily additional breaks for up to six months to breastfeed their child.

Parental Leave

In a progressive move designed to highlight its leading role in the region, the UAE introduced parental leave, making it the first Arab country to do so.

Entitlement: Article 32 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 grants parents of newborns a 5-day fully paid leave, which they should ideally take within six months of the child’s birth.

Official National Holidays

Article 28 of the Labour Law grants workers paid days off work on national holidays designated by the Cabinet. These holidays include Eid Al Fitr, Arafah Day, New Year’s Day, Eid Al Adha, Hijri New Year, Prophet Mohammed’s birthday, Commemoration Day, and National Day.

Compensation: If employers require workers to work on these holidays, they must provide compensation. This is either by granting a day off in lieu or paying a wage of at least 150% of the basic salary for the day.

Sick Leave

Article 31 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33 permits workers to take up to 90 days of sick leave annually, with full payment for the initial fifteen days. The next thirty days are half-paid, and the remaining forty-five days are unpaid.

Conditions: Workers must inform their employer within three working days of falling ill and provide legitimate medical documentation to qualify for paid sick leave.

How to Apply for Annual Leaves?

The first step to getting your leave approved is to apply. You can follow these steps when sending an email application:

Step 1

You want your email to be clear and concise. Begin with a brief subject line, making it easier for the recipient to understand the purpose of the email immediately. It also offers the added benefit of ensuring effective communication of your main request.

Step 2

Your introduction should be courteous and professional, addressing your employer respectfully and expressing gratitude for considering your application.

Step 3

Your email should contain detailed and essential information, such as the duration of the leave, the start and end days, and the reason for the leave. This enables your employer to assess your request accurately and plan the necessary adjustments.

Step 4

Take full responsibility for your actions and acknowledge your commitment to minimizing the disruption your absence might cause.

Step 5

You should include accurate and detailed contact addresses and means of communication to signal your commitment to being accessible even while taking time away from work.

Step 6

Take a proactive approach by offering to delegate tasks if necessary. This indicates your willingness to ensure a smooth workflow while away from work.

Step 7

Make proper documentation to ensure a streamlined application process. It helps position you as someone ready to follow company procedures.

Step 8

Open communication is essential in getting your leave application approved. Inviting your employer to contact you with any concerns or questions can achieve this.

Step 9

Gratitude is germane when writing your leave application. Thus, ensure you close your email on a thankful note.

Email Template for Annual Leaves

Following the guidelines above, here’s a template email you can use  for your leave application:

Subject: Leave Request

Dear [Supervisor’s Name],

I hope my email finds you well. I write to formally request a [duration] leave of absence from work starting on [start date] and ending on [end date]. I have considered the upcoming workload and made the necessary arrangements to ensure continued productivity during my leave.

My leave is [briefly explain your reason, whether personal, medical or any other valid reason]. I recognize the significance of my role within the team and will do my best to minimize any disruption during this period. My colleagues will provide support as needed.

During my absence, you can reach me via email at [your email address], and I will check my email periodically to address any urgent matters. Please let me know if you would like me to delegate any specific tasks or responsibilities in advance.

I have attached the necessary leave request form, completed with the required details, to facilitate the process. Kindly inform me if I need to follow any additional conditions or procedures. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any concerns or questions regarding my leave request, and I shall address them promptly.

Thank you for your understanding and consideration of my request. I anticipate your approval and working with the team to guarantee a stress-free transition during my leave.


[Your Name]

[Your Employee ID]

[Your Contact Information]


Here are answers to some common questions about leave policies in the United Arab Emirates:

Can an employee be terminated on the grounds of sickness?

Yes, employers can terminate employment due to sickness. But it’s under specific circumstances as outlined in Article 31 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) of 2021. For instance, the article states that an employer can terminate employment for sickness if the employee’s medical condition prevents them from returning to work. However, they must comply with relevant labour laws and regulations, including providing the necessary financial entitlements.

Is annual leave in the UAE based on calendar days?

Annual leave entitlements in the UAE arise from calendar days, not working days. For instance, Article 29 of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) of 2021 grants employees who have completed one year of service a fully paid annual leave of 30 days.

Can the employer determine when the employee’s leave will be taken?

Yes, employers can determine the start date of an annual leave. Employers can also divide the annual leave into two different periods in agreement with their employees and a one-month notice.

Can the employees determine when they will take their leave?

In the UAE, employees can determine when to take their annual leave. However, it’s necessary to seek approval. You can also review your employment contract and workplace policies to understand your employer’s expectations regarding leave scheduling.

How are UAE national/public holidays within an employee’s annual leave Treated?

In the UAE, national/public holidays are typically paid days off for employees. So, if a holiday falls within an employee’s approved leave period, it counts as part of the leave.

Can an employee claim compensation for unutilized leaves at the termination of the contract?

Yes. Article 29(8) of the Federal Decree-Law No. (33) of 2021 stipulates that an employee can take wages for the accrued leave days if he quits the job before using them, regardless of the leave duration.

Can an employee take annual leave before completing one year of service?

Yes, an employee can take two days each month if he has spent over six months at the place of employment.

How to calculate leave salary in UAE?

Leave salary in the UAE is typically calculated based on the employee’s basic salary and the length of the accrued annual leave. Here’s a simple formula:

Leave salary = (Basic Salary ÷ 30 days) x Number of Leave Days.

How to get a medical certificate for sick leave?

You can get a medical report from a licensed medical facility. Then, proceed to the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) website to complete the attestation process.