UAE to review maternity law
A Dubai women’s group wants to bring maternity leave in the UAE in line with international standards.
A Dubai women’s organisation is lobbying the Government to bring maternity leave in the United Arab Emirates in line with international standards.
Women in the Emirates are currently entitled to 45 calendar days paid leave when working in the private sector, or 60 calendar days for government employees.
The Dubai Women’s Establishment, a local government body concerned with women’s advocacy, drafted a policy document based on their research into parental leave accorded around the globe.
‘We found that our maternity leave is not up to the international standards,’ said the organisation’s chief executive, Shamsa Saleh.
Indeed, of the 39 countries investigated, only eight of them granted women less leave than the UAE.
One of those countries currently offering less parental leave is the United States, which, along with Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Swaziland, has no national law mandating paid leave for new parents.
In contrast, countries with more generous provisions include Slovakia, which offers paid maternity leave for 28 weeks and parental leave of up to three years, and Sweden, which offers 60 weeks that can be divided between caregivers.
According to a report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) earlier this year, the consequence of paid parental leave for a suitable duration has far-reaching health benefits.
It is associated with increased breastfeeding rates, lower infant mortality, higher uptake of immunizations, and lower risk of postpartum depression.
Janet Walsh, deputy women’s rights director at HRW, said: “Around the world, policymakers understand that helping workers meet their work and family obligations is good public policy. It’s good for business, for the economy, for public health, and for families.”
Some still express concerns about the effects of prolonged paid parental leave on small businesses and research has even suggested that it results in an absence of women in senior management roles.
A 2009 study found that in Sweden, where parental leave is 60 weeks, only 31.6% of managers were female, whereas the absence of such mandated paid leave in the US resulted in women occupying 42.7% of managerial positions.
Nonetheless, the news of the organisation’s renewed lobbying of the government has been welcomed in the Emirates, where mothers have long complained about the inadequacy of provisions.