Does this mean it’s only a matter of time before a wider decision is made?

Remember how we told you that the UAE government has created a taskforce to look into maternity leave in the Emirates?

Well, a major Dubai company has decided to take action early and double their employee’s maternity leave, extending it to 90 days. The current legal requirement is 45 calendar days, so that’s including weekends, for the private sector and 60 days for the public sector.

The company is Omnicom Media Group Mena, and they say the decision came after plenty of staff feedback on the matter and is part of a “wider programme to support the return of new mothers to the workplace, which will also include flexible working hours and a mentorship and empowerment programme.”

*ALSO READ: Sheikh Mohammed praises female minister & new mum*

Currently fully paid maternity leave is six weeks in the UAE, while it’s 10 weeks in both Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. The UAE labour law also stipulates that women be allowed to take another 100 days unpaid after their paid leave is over without their jobs being under question.

Omnicom’s review of maternity leave decided that the “current legal provision does not necessarily allow sufficient time for a mother to truly bond and nurture her child after giving birth”.

According to LinkedIn, Omnicom has between 500 and 1,000 employees.

This isn’t the first major company to make the change – Kuwaiti conglomerate Alghanim Industries recently doubled maternity leave to 90 paid days for its UAE employees, while Dubai-based real estate firm MENA Properties extended maternity leave by 15 days – to 60 in total.


emirati woman

The UAE recently set up a ‘Gender Balance Index’ which, in the government’s words, “reflects the UAE leadership’s vision to enhance the role of women across all sectors of society and ensure their effective participation in the country’s economic development”.

H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the chairman of the UAE Gender Balance Council, explained that 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.”

The Gender Balance Council will aim to move the UAE to a more favourable ranking on the UNDP’s Gender Inequality Index. The index uses maternal mortality, adolescent birth rate, share of seats in parliament, secondary education and ratio in the workplace to come to its conclusions.

In the list #1 is the most equal country, and #188 is the most inequal. In 2015 the UAE was 41st on the list out of 188 countries (surprisingly Saudi Arabia came in at 39).

The top 10 countries in 2015 were..
1. Norway
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. Denmark
5. Netherlands
6. Germany
7. Ireland
8. United States
9. Canada
10. New Zealand

The lowest ranking countries were Eritrea, Central African Republic and Niger.

H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, has set a goal for the UAE to become one of the world’s top 25 countries for gender equality by 2021.

The UAE Gender Balance Council will also work to…

– Develop legislations which help to achieve gender balance.

– Introduce flexible working hours and part-time shifts in government departments and companies.

– Oversee the implementation of recommendations in the work environment that support women.

– Sign collaboration and partnership agreements with international organisations and governments that have reached high levels of gender balance.

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Images: Getty