Compassionate Leave in UAE as per Labour Law

By Al-hamid
  • February 20, 2024
  • 3 min read

In the UAE, employees are entitled to several benefits that are established in the law. The compassionate leave is one of them, and as such, every employer must comply with the regulations and provide it to their employees when needed.

In this article, you are going to gain more insight into the compassionate leave UAE. Thus, you will understand what it is and how to implement and follow a policy in the workplace to avoid complaints and fines.

What is Compassionate Leave?

What is compassionate leave? A compassionate leave is granted to an employee who has suffered the loss of a family member, such as a parent, sibling, spouse, etc. Thus, the employee can be absent from work to attend the funerary service, mourn, and just be with their relatives to process it.

For this reason, it receives the name “compassionate”, as it is a sign of compassion from the employer to the employee. Nonetheless, this type of leave may not be so common in other countries.

Therefore, it may seem like something out of place for foreign employers. For instance, many employers are highly familiar with annual leave as per UAE Labor Law, as it is a common type of leave around the world.

On the other hand, other types of leaves are new or recently added, such as paternity leave in Dubai, and in this case, the compassionate leave.

So, why is this leave important in the UAE? For the following reasons:

  • The UAE is adapting to the changes in the organizational culture, where they want to consider the work-life balance.
  • Including this type of leave can improve relations with staff members
  • Employers that offer this benefit attract top talent as they seem more empathetic towards their employees

How to Approach Compassionate Leave Discussions

The compassionate leave is part of the benefits package the employer offers their employees. Therefore, having a solid understanding of the fundamentals of contract law can ease the process of how to include them in the contract.

Furthermore, as a corporation, it is important to know how to carry out discussions regarding this leave. Since it is a sensitive matter, the right thing to do is to establish a policy with few steps that employees can follow quickly.

Thus, whenever they see themselves in a situation of having to request this leave, they can do it without too much hassle so they can leave to process what had just happened and recoup with family.

In this regard, as a company, it is recommended to follow the next steps:

  • Prepare policies and the information to be provided to the employees
  • Instruct their HR personnel on how to deal with this leave with empathy and respect
  • Establish communication channels that allow employees to address their inquiries
  • Instruct managers on how to manage absences from team members due to this type of leave
  • Develop strategies for the post-leave so the employee can feel supported.


The first step on how to approach this type of leave is to be prepared. As an employer, it is important to have a solid HR department well-versed in the regulations and processes regarding employee leaves.

Thus, HR has to determine the following:

  • Eligibility criteria: who can apply for this leave? What are the conditions?
  • Application process: how to apply for compassionate leave? What does the employee have to submit for the leave to be considered valid? how do request compassionate leave?
  • Processing: how long does the application take? How many days can the employee be absent? From when is the leave effective? Can the employee take more days than what is established in the law?
  • Post-leave: what are the next steps to take after the employee has returned?

As you can see, managing this leave involves understanding how to deal with sensitive topics. In addition, it is important to inform employees that they should not abuse this leave and use it for other purposes.

Empathy and Respect

As we have mentioned before, it is important to know how to handle this leave as it may be a delicate matter for employees. More recently, employers have been receiving instructions on how to respect employees’ work-life balance.

For some employers, compassionate leave may seem unnecessary, but the truth is that employees need time to grieve when they are facing hard times such as the loss of a relative. Thus, employers have to make an effort to ensure their employees get what they need.

This is because if an employee feels that they are respected, they perform better and carry out their tasks excellently.

Thus, the organization must do the following to handle the matter with empathy and respect:

  • First of all, follow the regulations about compassionate leave UAE labor law.
  • Instruct managers and HR personnel to approach the situation with empathy. Since every case is different, every single one should be handled with care
  • Avoid pressuring employees to return before the leave has ended.
  • Showing respect also involves confidentiality. The manager can be informed, but the details belong to the employee. As such, he or she deserves privacy and dignity.

Clarity in Communication

During difficult times it may be complex to ensure clarity in communication. However, it is important to do it as this avoids facing troubles due to miscommunication.

Even though you already have the compassionate leave policy, it is not enough, as every employee should be aware of it.

For instance, you can do the following:

  • Incorporate the policy in the employee handbooks
  • Send internal communications reminding employees about the existence of the policy for this leave
  • Place posters around the workplace where employees can see the current policies and benefits.

In addition, you also have to instruct your HR staff on how to process the leave and how to communicate with the employee effectively during the application.

Consider Internal Policies

In case you already have policies in your organization about compassionate leave, perhaps you have to check them to see if they are in line with the regulations in the UAE.

It is very important, particularly if you are a foreign employee, to align your current policies with what is expected in the UAE. Perhaps in your home country, this leave does not exist, or may be unpaid, or it grants fewer days, etc.

In any case, you have to adapt your benefits to UAE employees. On the other hand, if you do not have any policies, you have to develop them and make them clear and comprehensive. Some of the aspects you can include are the following:

  • How much time off depending on each situation
  • Paid or unpaid leave
  • Notification procedures
  • Additional support or resources

Negotiation and Flexibility

Once the employee has requested a UAE compassionate leave, it is important to handle it properly. Depending on the nature of the situation, the employee may request more time, or perhaps he or she will request flexibility to return to work.

For instance, if the employee has lost their spouse, and has little children, it may be difficult to figure out how to go back to work because they need some help with the kids. In exceptional cases, it is possible to show compassion and allow for flexibility.

This way, there can be more trust in the employee-employer relationship, and it can deliver good outcomes for the corporation. So, how many days compassionate leave in UAE? It will vary in each case.

Post-Leave Follow-up

Lastly, there is an aspect that many employers do not take into account, and that is the post-leave. Even though the employee has taken some time to cope with the event, the manager cannot expect the employee to return and act as if nothing has happened.

For instance, you can instruct your managers to do the following:

  • Follow up with the employee to ask if they need any further support, and how they are coping.
  • Consider that every person processes grief differently. So, they must feel valued and supported.
  • Offer to understand and do not pressure employees to be happy or as they were before.

Difference Between Compassionate Leave and Bereavement Leave

There are two terms commonly associated with this type of leave, which are compassionate leave and bereavement leave.

Even though they may be used interchangeably, and both are for the death of a relative, bereavement leave is generally used to refer to the death of a loved one.

Nonetheless, in the UAE, they mean the same, there is no difference in duration, eligibility, or any other.

Therefore, an employee can request a bereavement leave in the case of death of any of the following relatives:

  • Spouse
  • Mother or father
  • Child
  • Sibling
  • Grandchild
  • Grandparent

Also, it is important to not confuse it with the UAE Emergency Leave, as they are not the same.

In addition to this leave, there are also other benefits that make an employer attractive to candidates, such as the end-of-service benefit.

Legal Regulations for Paid and Unpaid Leave in UAE

Another key aspect when it comes to compassionate leave is whether it is paid or unpaid. In this regard, it may be difficult to assess this matter. Thus, the employer has to do what the law states, if the company is in the private sector.

The compassionate leave as per UAE labour law states the following:

  • 5 days of paid leave for the death of a spouse
  • 3 days of paid leave for the death of a father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandfather, grandmother, grandson or granddaughter.

Considering this, the employer has to pay the employee for these absent days. Nonetheless, if the employee wants to take more days, the employer may be flexible and grant them unpaid leave days to continue grieving.

What is the new law on compassionate leave?

As you may already know, in the UAE, the regulations are constantly changing and updating to include provisions that may benefit more people. For this reason, it is important to know about the new Labour Law in the UAE and if there are modifications regarding compassionate leave.

In this regard, all the information about this leave is in the Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021, which establishes the regulations of labour relations in the private sector, most commonly known as UAE Labour Law.

This new law repeals the former Law No. 8 of 1980. As such, it contains all the provisions regarding the time off an employee can take.

In Article 32 of the new UAE Labour Law, employers can check the eligibility and how many days off can an employee request in every particular event. Also, in this Article, there are other types of leaves and provisions.

For this reason, employers must have a legal team well-versed in the law to comply with the requirements.

What is the Compassionate Leave Policy?

The compassionate leave policy is a document where the corporation states everything about the leave. Thus, it should include all the information the employee may need about it. This way, the employee can check it and be aware of the terms.

Many companies do not have clear policies about leaves, and this is a mistake, as it can help to streamline the process when an employee requests it.

Thus, to make this policy you should consider the following:

  • Statutory rights
  • Current legal regulations in the UAE
  • Labour Law
  • Paid and unpaid time off
  • Requirements to request the leave

Furthermore, the company must be clear that, given this type of situation, the policy should be flexible. As such, it can be adapted to every individual in the company depending on the situation they are facing.


Running a successful company involves not only following the basic corporate laws for business in the UAE but also adhering to the regulations established by the employment law. Therefore, you need to know how to establish a solid policy for your leaves, including compassionate leave.

Contact us if you want to get support with the UAE law in your organization. Our team of experts can help you with all the legal matters of your business. 

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