Paternity Leave in the Middle East; Should Other Arab Countries Follow the UAE?
The United Arab Emirates has been on the forefront, leading the way towards gender equality in the region, and major steps have been taken with these new policies. It was announced yesterday that male workers in the UAE’s private sector shall now be granted paid paternity leave! Male workers will now get five paid working days to care for their child during the first six months of their child’s birth.
This is the first time that the UAE’s private-sector has been granted paid paternity leave. Previously the UAE did not require private sector companies to provide any kind of parental or paternity leave to male employees, although some companies included an allowance at their own discretion (for example, international companies that apply paternity leave across all the countries they operate in like Zomato).
The announcement was made after an amendment to the UAE labor law was approved by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Sunday. The move, which is a first in the region, is considered to be strengthening the UAE’s position in gender balance and encourage work in the private sector. It also enhances its efforts to create a competitive model that supports the work environment in the private sector.
According to Gulf News, this new amendment on paternity leave has been approved alongside a decree for equal pay for women, which states that “a female employee should be paid the exact or similar wage of the male employee if she is doing the same or similar work as a male employee.”
According to The National, Saudi Arabia’s labor law stipulates that men are entitled to three days of paid leave (but it is unclear if this also applies to private-sector workers), and Lebanon also offers three days of paid paternity leave but this is rarely followed. We hope to see more countries in the Arab world follow the UAE on this matter.