Legalities of Denying Annual Leave Requests Based on Co-Worker Absences in the UAE

Employers are required to grant annual leave at least once every two years

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on June 24, 2024, 10:48:01


annual leave in uae

Annual leave requests in the UAE can sometimes be tricky, especially when employer decisions are influenced by the absence of other colleagues. Understanding the legal framework governing these decisions is crucial for both employers and employees.

Employer Discretion on Annual Leave

In the UAE, the authority to approve or deny annual leave requests largely rests with the employer. According to Article 29 (4) of Federal Decree-Law No. 33 of 2021 on the Regulation of Employment Relations (the 'UAE Employment Law'), employers have the right to set the dates for annual leave based on the needs of the business.

Employers may also rotate leave among employees to ensure smooth operations. This law mandates that employees should be informed of their leave dates at least one month in advance.

Conditions for Leave Denial

Employers are required to grant annual leave at least once every two years. If an employee prefers to carry forward their leave or receive payment in lieu, this must align with the establishment’s bylaws and be specified in the Executive Regulations of the Decree Law. Specifically, Article 29 (8) stipulates that an employer cannot prevent an employee from using their accrued annual leave for more than two years unless the employee consents to carry it forward or receive compensation instead.

Financial Implications for Employees

If an employer initially agrees in writing to grant annual leave and later rescinds this decision, they may be liable for any financial losses incurred by the employee, such as pre-paid travel tickets.

While the UAE Employment Law and subsequent ministerial decrees do not explicitly address remedies for such situations, obtaining written pre-approval for leave is advisable. This helps protect employees from potential financial setbacks.

Best Practices for Employees to Avoid Issues with Annual Leave

  • Always secure written approval for leave requests from your employer before making travel arrangements.
  • Be aware of your company's policies regarding leave rotation and work requirements.
  • Plan vacations well in advance and keep open communication with management to mitigate the risk of leave denial.

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