How do countries compare on paid parental leave?

New UAE legislation will soon offer parents more statutory leave

The UAE plans to offer more parental leave. Getty Images
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The UAE government will soon offer extended parental leave to encourage more women to stay in work after having children.

As yet, it is not clear exactly how much more time off parents will get, but under existing federal laws women working in permanent positions in the country are entitled to 60 days’ leave with full pay.

The amount of leave awarded, however, does vary, with female government employees receiving more time off than their private sector colleagues, according to a government site.

Women working in government departments in Abu Dhabi currently receive three months’ paid leave, while women employed by the Dubai government are allowed 120 days, 90 days of which are fully paid.

By comparison, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah also offer 90 days of fully paid leave. In addition, Sharjah offers 30 days unpaid leave.

There are also varying rules for nursing mothers depending on which emirate they live in.

Mothers employed by the Sharjah government are allowed two hours’ daily leave for babies up to the age of six months, while Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah offer a full year.

As far as men are concerned, Abu Dhabi government employees receive three days’ leave during the month of the delivery if the baby was born in the UAE.

But how do other countries compare?

According to a report published last year by Unicef, of the world's 41 richest countries to offer new mothers leave at full pay, countries in Europe are the most generous.

Estonia offers the most maternity leave, at 85 weeks of full pay. Hungary is the next best with 72 weeks, followed by Bulgaria at 65 weeks, Lithuania at 62 weeks and Slovakia at 54 weeks.

Paid leave for fathers tends to be much poorer in comparison.

Japan offers the longest paternity leave at 30 weeks’ full pay. The Republic of Korea is the next best with 17 weeks, but few fathers in either country take it.

In Japan, only one in 20 took paid leave in 2017, while just one in six of all parents in the Republic of Korea who take parental leave are fathers.

Other countries to offer generous paternity packages include Portugal, which offers 12 weeks, and Luxembourg and Sweden, which both offer 10 weeks.

The United States was the only country to be included in the study which offers no national paid leave as standard for mothers or fathers.