Government staff get more parental leave - but what about the rest?
Public sector employees in Abu Dhabi have welcomed the news that new mums will get extended maternity leave, while fathers will receive three days paternity leave.
However, the move has left some private sector employees asking: what about us?
Under changes announced on Wednesday, maternity leave for government employees in Abu Dhabi has been extended from 60 days to three months at full pay. The allotment for the private sector is unchanged, remaining at 45 days.
The new human resources law, issued by UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, also said male government will get three days paternity leave on the birth of their baby.
The move comes just over a year after Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, said that the country was “far behind” others when it comes to time off work for new mums. She said in July 2015 that the matter was under review.
Under the new law, mothers in the government sector can also leave the workplace for two hours a day to take care of their babies for a period of one year from the date of delivery. Previously they were allowed one hour.
“This is a very good thing for us,” said 25-yearold Aisha Mohammed, who works for a government department in Abu Dhabi. “I am expecting to give birth early next year and the long maternity leave will give me more time to be with my child and take good care of him.”
Amal Al Dowaila, a 30-year-old public relations officer at Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs, agreed the changes will help.
“Giving an extra month of maternity and two hours of daily leave is a great thing for mothers,” said the Emirati.
“They will be able to take good care of their newborns with no worries about job tasks.”
Al Dowaila added: “I am happy that government has put mothers and their newborn babies into consideration.
Meanwhile, Emirati Mohammed Ghateb, a father of three boys who works with Abu Dhabi By Ismail Sebugwaawo Ports, said paternity leave will help fathers support their wives.
“My wife needs me around for support after she has given birth,” said the 35-year-old.
“And this three-day leave will always be very important for me to spend time with her and the baby.”
Ghateb added the new policy is in line with the government’s mission to increase happiness in the UAE.
However, the move has raised questions among those in the private sector, who have been left wondering whether there will be changes to their mandatory family leave.
Indian mother of three Andaleeb Fatima, who works as a marketing consultant at a firm in Abu Dhabi, said mothers in the private sector need extra time with their children just as much as those in the public sector.
“Increasing the maternity leave to three months for women in government jobs is a positive thing,” said the 42-year-old.
“But it would be good if the government also considers giving a longer maternity leave to mothers working for private firms as 45 days is not enough.”
Fatima noted that the mother and baby are fragile in the first months after birth.
The new law applies to all civilians who are working in government offices in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, according to the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.