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Everything You Need To Know About Compassionate Leave In UAE

Apr 10, 2024 | Human Resources

Compassionate leave in the UAE is vital for employees experiencing the loss of a close relative, allowing them time away from work to grieve and manage personal affairs. In the UAE, the law ensures that the emotional well-being of the workforce is acknowledged by granting paid bereavement leave during these trying times. We explain the intricacies of compassionate leave, comparing it with other types of leave, outlining recent legislative changes, and explaining the legal framework that upholds this provision.

We’ll also guide you through the application process, discusses the duration and pay entitlement, and addresses how disputes and violations related to compassionate leave are handled. Whether you’re an employee or employer in the UAE, understanding compassionate leave entitlements is crucial in fostering a supportive and respectful work environment.

Compassionate Leave in the UAE

Comparison with Other Types of Leave

In the United Arab Emirates, compassionate leave is a provision that lets employees take time off from work due to the event of the death of a close relative. Specifically, the law entitles employees to a paid bereavement leave of five days in the event of a spouse’s death. For the loss of a parent, child, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent, you’re granted three days. This type of leave differs from other forms of leave available to employees, such as annual, sick, and maternity/paternity leave each designed to cater to different personal circumstances.

Compassionate leave reflects the UAE’s commitment to ensuring that you have the opportunity to grieve and manage your family affairs during such difficult times. It also helps to alleviate the added stress of work obligations. It recognises the need for a better work-life balance and the importance of supporting employees during critical life events.

This type of leave is particularly significant as it acknowledges the emotional impact of loss and the time required for mourning and funeral arrangements.

Recent Changes to the Legislation

The legal framework governing compassionate leave in the UAE has seen recent changes. The introduction of the Federal Decree-Law No. 33/2021 on the Regulation of Labour Relations and its Implementing Regulation, Cabinet Decision No. 1/2022, has taken place. These legislative updates have brought about a more comprehensive and modern approach to employment relations within the private sector, excluding free zones such as the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).

One of the notable enhancements in the new Labour Law is the inclusion of additional types of leave. These include study leave and paid maternity leave for the birth of a child with a disability, alongside the already existing paid compassionate leave. These amendments have been largely welcomed as they provide greater flexibility to attend to your personal needs while maintaining your professional responsibilities.

Moreover, the process for resolving individual labour disputes has been streamlined. Starting January 1, 2024, for all employment contract disputes valued at less than USD 13,650 (AED 50,000), the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE) will act as a judge to settle the dispute with a final decision. If you’re dissatisfied with MOHRE’s decision, you can appeal to the Labour Court of Appeal within 15 working days from the date of notification of the decision. The outcome of this appeal will be conclusive, and it’s yet to be determined whether legal representation will be allowed for claims before MOHRE.

The evolution of the UAE’s labour laws, including the provisions for compassionate leave, demonstrates a progressive approach towards employee welfare. It highlights the importance of a supportive legal framework, upholding the rights and well-being of the workforce.

Person Putting Flowers On Coffin

Legal Framework for Compassionate Leave

Federal Law Provisions

The Federal Decree-Law No. 33/2021 and Cabinet Decision No. 1/2022 also specify the conditions under which compassionate leave can be availed. These regulations ensure that the family member’s financial burden is lessened during the bereavement period.

Recent legislation has introduced additional leave categories, reflecting an evolving understanding of the workforce’s diverse requirements and the significance of supporting them through various life stages.

DIFC and ADGM Regulations

While the mainland’s legal provisions do not extend to every jurisdiction, the DIFC and ADGM have distinct legal systems. Consequently, the guidelines for compassionate leave within these zones may vary from the mainland’s regulations.

Employees in the DIFC or ADGM should familiarise themselves with the respective employment laws to fully understand their compassionate leave rights.

Employee Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility for compassionate leave under Federal Law is not contingent on the duration of an absent employee’s employment. In contrast, other special leaves, such as the unpaid Hajj pilgrimage leave, which is granted for up to 30 days, necessitate at least one year of continuous service and are available only once during an employee’s tenure.

The array of leave options, including compassionate leave, underscores the UAE’s dedication to fostering a work culture that respects employees’ personal needs.

People Holding Hands

Applying for Compassionate Leave

The Application Process

Upon the occurrence of a bereavement, it is imperative to inform your employer promptly to initiate the leave process. The leave commences from the date of the death of a close loved one, providing you with the necessary time to focus on familial responsibilities and personal recuperation.

Required Documentation

To substantiate your request for compassionate leave, you may be asked to present official documents, such as a death certificate or other proof verifying your relationship with the deceased. The specific requirements for documentation can differ according to labour law and your employer’s internal regulations.

Employer’s Role and Responsibilities

Employers must comply with the Federal Decree-Law No. 33/2021 stipulations concerning compassionate leave. They are prohibited from imposing any penalties or deducting wages for the duration of your leave. Additionally, it is unlawful for employers to retain an employee’s passport or medical report or to deduct it from their salary, except for scenarios explicitly permitted by Article 25 of the labour law.

Employee Rights and Obligations

You are entitled to the stipulated compassionate leave without fear of unwarranted penalties or wage deductions. Should you encounter any disputes with your employer over compassionate leave, MOHRE is available to assist and address the issue. It is crucial to adhere to the application procedure, provide the required proof, and be cognizant of the duration of your leave. Employers are expected to respect these rights and provide the necessary support during your bereavement, ensuring no additional burdens are placed upon the company or you.

Duration and Pay During Compassionate Leave

Calculating Leave Duration

The provision is there to give you the necessary time to grieve and handle the affairs that follow the loss of a loved one.

Salary and Benefits Entitlement

You’re entitled to your regular salary and benefits during your bereavement leave. This ensures you don’t face financial hardship during a time of personal distress.

Scenarios Affecting Leave Periods

While the UAE labour law specifies the duration of bereavement leave, it doesn’t explicitly mention compassionate leave for other distressing situations, such as family emergencies such as a family member’s serious illness or a personal emergency like a fire or flood at home. In these cases, you might have to use your sick leave entitlement, although the two are not the same.

Compassionate leave, unlike bereavement leave, isn’t a legal requirement and is, therefore, not typically a paid leave. Some companies may choose to offer compassionate leave as a gesture of goodwill, acknowledging the value and well-being of their employees. However, such policies aren’t widespread, and where they do exist, the leave is usually brief, ranging from one to three days at most.

It’s important to remember that even the most dedicated employees may need to take time off during family emergencies. The employee’s absence because of a compassionate leave policy could affect their decision to stay with an employer.

Doctor Comforting People

Handling Disputes and Violations

Common Issues and Redressal

When conflicts arise regarding your entitlements, such as compassionate leave, the MOHRE provides a platform for you to lodge complaints. If an employer fails to comply with the stipulated leave provisions, you can utilise the Ministry’s resources to seek justice.

The MOHRE outlines permissible reasons for wage deductions, safeguarding you from unjust financial penalties. In the event of a violation, such as being wrongfully denied compassionate leave, the Ministry’s services are available for recourse.

Grievance Procedures for Employees

If you face an infringement of your rights, the MOHRE has established procedures to address your grievances. Through its Labour Advisory Services and Labour Claims And Advisory Center, the Ministry assists with labour-related issues. Complaints must be filed within 30 days of the alleged violation.

The aim is to resolve disputes within 14 days amicably before escalating them to the judicial system if necessary. The MOHRE also actively monitors workplace conditions, including enforcing safety measures and prohibiting outdoor work during the peak of summer to protect workers from extreme temperatures.

Legal Recourse and Penalties for Non-Compliance

Should internal grievance mechanisms fail, legal avenues remain open. The MOHRE enforces labour laws and holds employers accountable for non-compliance. Initiatives to raise awareness among both employers and employees about their rights and duties, such as the entitlement to compassionate leave, contribute to a just and respectful work environment.

Navigating Compassionate Leave with Confidence

As we’ve outlined, compassionate leave is a crucial element of the UAE’s labour law that provides necessary respite during times of personal loss. The structured approach to bereavement leave ensures that one can fully focus on family and healing during such periods without the added worry of work-related issues.

Regardless of the complexity of legalities, the heart of the matter remains your well-being and the emotional support you receive in times of grief. While companies may vary in their additional leave policies, knowing the fundamentals of your rights under federal law gives you the assurance to approach compassionate leave requests in an informed and prepared manner.

We encourage you to maintain open and clear communication with your employer and to utilise the resources available through MOHRE for any disputes. Armed with this knowledge, you can navigate such challenging times with greater ease and peace of mind.

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