A heavily pregnant Kristen James, already in her ninth month, plans to work till two days before her due date. “I have only 45 days off and I’m told that I cannot take anymore leave after that. I want to save my leave when the baby comes along,” she told Emirates 24|7.
Kristen’s employer is right. Being in the private sector, she is indeed entitled to 45 days of paid maternity leave, but what the employer may not have told her, or what Kirsten doesn’t seem to be aware of, is that she can still be away from work to be with her new born for another 100 days, albeit without pay.
The number of days given as maternity leave varies between the private sector, government and companies in the DIFC. [Read - Maternity leave in UAE: Which employers offer working mothers maximum days off].
“The UAE offers a statutory leave for private sector employees that allows for 45 days of leave with full pay – including days used before birth. The mother is then entitled to be absent from work for 100 days (without pay) on the expiration of her leave,” consulting firm Mercer said in a media release.
In Saudi Arabia, women who have been under contract for over a year are entitled to four weeks of leave immediately prior to expected delivery date, followed by a subsequent six weeks of leave at half-pay (full-pay if they have over three years of service).
The consulting firm gives a quick comparison of maternity leave in different countries. It states that the “worst offenders are the United States (6-12 weeks), Lebanon (7 weeks), Taiwan (8 weeks) and Hong Kong (10 weeks).”
The most generous countries are in Europe when it comes to giving days off to expecting mums.
“To offer a comparison, the most generous countries for leave can be found in Europe – including Sweden, Germany and England, which allow for extended maternity and even paternity leave. In Sweden, for example, parents are entitled to paid parental leave for 18 months, divided between parents and not taken at the same time.”