Abu Dhabi government employees welcome new family leave policies

The new law issued by Sheikh Khalifa, in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, also gives mothers in public sector two hours a day to tend to infants, and fathers three days of paternity leave.

ABU DHABI // Government employees in Abu Dhabi will receive an extra month of maternity leave, with three days of paternity leave for new fathers.

The changes were part of a human resources law issued by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, in his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

It applies to all civilians working in government branches in the emirate, the Abu Dhabi Executive Council said.

The law entitles women to three months of paid maternity leave and gives them two hours of leave a day, for one year, to take care of newborns starting from the day of birth.

Women were previously allowed two months of maternity leave and an hour of daily leave.

The new law also compels government departments to employ people with disabilities in suitable positions, with adequate working conditions.

It requires them to allow Emirati staff members to enrol in National Service if they meet entry requirements, and details employees’ obligations and prohibited action, covering investigation processes, safeguards and disciplinary measures.

The law also introduces provisions for hiring Emirati citizens in part-time jobs and for flexible working hours, in accordance with regulations.

Government workers have welcomed the extra maternity leave. Khawla Saleh, an Emirati public health professional, said it gave parents more recognition.

“An extra month of maternity and an extra hour a day is great,” said Ms Saleh, a mother of two.“It will help mothers to breastfeed their child for 30 more days, which is something we try to promote.”

She stressed the importance of time spent with the child at an early age.

“These extra 30 days do a lot in terms of child development and emotional bonding with the mother,” said Ms Saleh, adding that she hoped further efforts would be made to support working mothers.

“We would like to have more resources to help them not only be productive mothers, but also productive employees.”

Emirati Ayesha Al Hamadi also welcomed the law, although she wished new mothers could have even more time.

“The more time we have with our children at birth, the better, they need constant attention,” said Ms Al Hamadi, a mother of two.

“It gives parents enough time to figure out childcare arrangements when it is time to go back to work.”

She said three months would benefit children and mothers.

“Doctors always recommend breastfeeding the child instead of relying on formula milk,” she said. “I had to give my children bottled milk when I left them with babysitters, which is something I don’t prefer.

“The two hours a day for nursing is also welcomed, as it means more time with my child,” said the 32-year-old government employee.

New mother Samah Judeh said she was happy about the extra hour she would be able to spend with her baby.

“I gave birth recently to a boy and the new law will give me more time to be with my child and make sure he is well taken care off,” said the Jordanian teacher, 38.

“The two hours a day will be an aid to working women who are juggling their time between work and family.”

The announcement on Wednesday coincided with a Youth Circle hosted by the Dubai Women Establishment and Emirates Youth Council on women in the workplace.

Those taking part discussed the reasons behind low retention of female Emirati staff, among other issues.


Published: September 28, 2016 04:00 AM


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