Dubai-based Omnicom Media Group MENA has become the latest private sector company in the region to increase its maternity leave entitlement.
The company announced that it has doubled maternity leave to 90 days, compared to the existing UAE requirement of 45 days.
The move is part of a “wider programme to support the return of new mothers to the workplace, which will also include flexible working hours and a mentorship and empowerment programme,” Omnicom said in a statement.
The decision followed staff feedback through the company’s recently launched workplace phone application OMGene.
Omnicom said it received a number of requests to extend the maternity leave which led to a policy review.
The review decided that the “current legal provision does not necessarily allow sufficient time for a mother to truly bond and nurture her child after giving birth.”
“We firmly believe the secret to leading a happy life is by prioritising your family and harmony at home over everything else; work should always come second,” said Elie Khouri, CEO of Omnicom Media Group MENA.
Under UAE law, companies are obliged to provide employees with 45 calendar days (six weeks) of maternity leave, while public sector workers receive 60 days. The law also stipulates that women should be allowed to take another 100 days leave without pay.
That compares with maternity leave of 49 weeks in Norway, 39 weeks in the UK, 18 weeks in New Zealand and 10 weeks in Saudi Arabia.
Last month it was announced that a new committee is set to be established to review the UAE’s maternity law, under a directive issued by the country’s UAE Gender Balance Council.
The aim is to provide women with a “supportive work environment” and to activate the ‘gender balance index’ across various sectors, a statement said.
Some private sector firms have already begun extending maternity leave for their employees to encourage women in the workplace.
Kuwaiti conglomerate Alghanim Industries recently doubled maternity leave to 90 paid days for its UAE employees, while Dubai-based real estate consultancy MENA Properties also revealed that it is extending maternity leave by 15 days – to 60 in total.