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UAE to reconsider maternity rights

The UAE has set up a council to review the country's maternity law. 17 Aug 2016

The Gender Balance Council will look at the best ways to "provide women with a supportive work environment in line with best international practices", the UAE government announced.

Prime minister of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said the UAE should create a supportive environment for women to fulfil their roles as "key partners in building the future of the nation".

"Emirati women have proved their competence in all fields and we are proud of every achievement they made, and thus, we are committed to support them till they achieve the highest degrees of excellence and accomplish further achievements in line with our ambitious development vision," he said.

This is an "extremely positive development for the UAE from an employment law and social infrastructure perspective", said employment law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com. 

"The UAE Labour Law currently provides employees with a minimum of 45 calendar days' maternity leave. Although many employers provide discretionary periods of leave that go beyond the strict statutory entitlement, a change in UAE Labour Law around this benefit would be welcomed by many employers as well as employees," Tapp said.

"Three new labour decrees were implemented on 1 January 2016 which developed certain employee-friendly aspects of the UAE employment law. Therefore the local authorities are clearly placing an increased emphasis on the provisions governing employment relationships in the UAE and are not only consulting but are also implementing important changes around this legislation," he said.

At the first meeting of the Gender Balance Council, president of the council Sheikha Manal also announced the launch of a Gender Balance Index in government bodies.

“We are working to activate the Gender Balance Index across various sectors to enhance the role of women, and promote gender equality through encouraging female participation. In the next phase, the council will take the necessary steps to ensure that men and women have equal opportunities to participate in the sustainable development of the UAE and to achieve the country’s vision in terms of gender balance on a local, regional and global level," Manal said.

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