UAE: Is It Legal For Employers To Deny Annual Leave Based On Co-Worker's Absences?

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Sun 16 Jun 2024, 8:45 AM

Question: I'm working in a Dubai-based company. I filed a leave request for the upcoming summer break but my manager rejected it, saying a colleague will be on leave at the same time. Is this legal? I have already booked and paid for my tickets, and I already made other travel arrangements.

Answer: In the UAE, it is at the discretion of an employer to decide the dates of annual leave of its employees on rotation based on work requirements. This is in accordance with Article 29 (4) of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'UAE Employment Law') which states:

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“The employee shall use his leave in the year of entitlement. The employer may fix the dates of leave according to the work requirements and in agreement with the employee, or rotate leaves among employees for the smooth progress of work, and shall notify the employee of the date of his leave at least (1) one month before the same."

The employer, however, is required to grant annual leave to an employee at least once in two years, unless otherwise the employee agrees to carry forward the annual leave or get paid in lieu of leave by the employer. Article 29(8) of the UAE Employment Law states:

“The employer may not prevent the employee from using his accrued annual leave for more than two years unless the employee wants to carry it over or be paid in lieu of leave according to the Establishment bylaws and as specified by the Executive Regulations of this Decree Law."

Your employer may be correct to decline your annual leave due to work requirements and annual leave rotation of its other employees. However, if your employer has agreed in writing and have granted you annual leave, your employer may be obligated to bear the cost of the tickets you already paid for to travel during the proposed annual leave.

The UAE Employment Law and subsequent ministerial decrees are silent related to the remedy available in such cases to employees. It is recommended, in the future, for you to obtain written pre-approval on your annual leave from your employer and thereafter plan your annual vacation accordingly to avoid you incurring financial loss.

Applicable Law

Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations

Ashish Mehta is the founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: ... or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.


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