If your company has a clear leave application request policy, employees will have a much better idea of their rights and responsibilities when asking for time off work. This means you can plan for leave requests better, and staff also know what they can and can’t do.
Types of leave application
As your company grows, it will be valuable to clearly document the kinds of leave your employees can take, as well as your company’s policies. You can store these policies in an employee handbook, which staff can refer to when asking for annual leave. The handbook should provide your employees with templates for a leave letter, or you could include a leave request form on your company intranet.
In this leave application guide, we will cover the following types of leave requests your employees can make, with a focus on business in the Middle East. These include:
- Sick leave
- Annual vacation
- Maternity leave
- Paternity leave
- Special leave (Hajj, Ramadan and Eid allowances)
When your employees take time off work for illness, you will naturally want to know why. While a telephone call should suffice for a short-term absence, for a longer leave of absence, you have a right to know what has caused it.
As an employer, you can formally request your employees to provide a letter to document their absence. Typically, you should ask employees to provide a self-certification letter – this should be made available in your employee handbook or on a sick-leave form (and in countries like Morocco or Jordan, you can request a doctor’s note immediately).
An employees’ sick leave letter should include the following:
- Employee name
- Employee title
- Employee type, e.g. full time/part time/contractor
- First day of absence
- Date returned to work
- Total days absent
- Reason for absence
Depending on the law in your country, you are obliged to pay employees who take sick leave, although after a certain amount of absence, the amount of salary they can claim may be reduced. It is essential to know what your legal position is and what you can request from employees, but it is common in many countries to ask for a doctor’s note, especially for longer illness.
What are the entitlements of sick leave?
The following table details entitlements to sick leave in several Middle Eastern countries:
|Country||Who pays?||Length of full pay||Reduced pay|
|UAE||Employer||15 days||50% for 30 days|
|Egypt||Employer||0 days||75% for first 90 days, 80% for second 90 days|
|Saudi Arabia||Employer||30 days||75% for 60 days|
|Oman||Employer||2 weeks||75% for weeks 3-4; 50% for weeks 5-6; 25% for weeks 7-10|
|Bahrain||Employer||15 days||50% for 20 days|
|Kuwait||Employer||15 days||10 days at 75%, 10 days at 50%, 10 days at 25%|
|Iran||Social Security||0 days||75% of average salary for those with dependents; 60% for those without dependents|
|Jordan||Employer||14 days + 14 additional days if admitted to hospital/on medical advice||N/A|
|Palestine||Employer||14 calendar days||50% for 14 calendar days (on medical advice)|
|Lebanon||Employer||Varies dependent on length of service (one month minimum)||Varies dependent on length of service (one month minimum)|
|Sudan||Employer||First 3 months||50% for next 3 months; 25% for 3 months|
|Tunisia||Employer||No law – depends on employment contract||No law – depends on employment contract|
|Algeria||Social Security||From the 16th day||50% for the first 15 days|
|Israel||Employer||From the 4th day of illness||50% on second and third day|
|Morocco||Social Security||180 days||0 days|
Keeping track of sick leave
While any good employer will give sick employees the benefit of the doubt, it is important to keep track of sick leave. Tools like Sage X3 give you the power to monitor sick leave across your business, spot employees who are taking off an unusual amount of time, and investigate anything suspicious. This can save you money when dealing with a dishonest employee, and means other staff see the company as fair.
Annual leave and special leave
Annual leave (also known as vacation leave) is the amount of paid time off an employer must give their workers, and it is a human right. Different countries allow different amounts of vacation leave, and the amount of annual leave an employee claims often depends on their seniority and experience.
Annual vacation allowance
In the MENA region, there are wide variations in the amount of basic paid annual leave staff can take. There are also different laws around religious holidays – some countries count Hajj as a paid holiday, while in others, a trip to Mecca must be paid by the employee.
Similarly, there are differences in the number of hours staff work during Ramadan and Eid, as well as time off for Passover, Christmas and other holidays.
The following table summarises annual vacation allowance in the Middle East and North Africa:
|Country||Minimum paid leave per year||Hajj allowance during employment||Ramadan allowance|
|UAE||30 days||30 days unpaid||6-hour day for all|
|Saudi Arabia||21 days||10-15 days paid||6-hour day for all|
|Egypt||21 days||1 month paid||N/A|
|Qatar||21 days||2 weeks unpaid||6-hour day for all|
|Oman||30 days||15 days paid||6-hour day for Muslim employees|
|Bahrain||30 days||14 days paid||6-hour day for Muslim employees|
|Kuwait||30 days||14 days paid||6-hour day for all|
|Iran||One calendar month||One month unpaid||N/A|
|Jordan||14 days||14 days paid||N/A|
|Palestine||14 days||14 days paid||N/A|
|Sudan||20 days||15 days paid||N/A|
|Libya||30 days||20 days paid||N/A|
|Algeria||30 days||30 days paid||N/A|
|Morocco||1.5 days per month||30 days unpaid||N/A|
* Note: ‘N/A’ denotes there is no legal requirement for companies to follow.
Vacation leave letter template
You may require employees to provide a vacation leave letter, especially when they are more senior in your company. A vacation leave letter is an official document that lets the employee explain the exact dates they will be away and shows how they have put in place measures to ensure that the business will be able to function without them.
|Employee name:||Employee title:|
|First day of vacation:||Date you will return from vacation:|
|Total days absent:||Employee type: full time / part time / contractor|
|Summarise why you are requesting this time off:|
|Summarise what you have done to ensure your teams can cope while you are away:|
|Summarise contact details should we need you, as well as details of who to contact in your place:|
What is maternity leave?
Maternity leave is paid time off that a company gives new mothers to dedicate time to raising a new child. In all countries in the MENA region, maternity leave is a legal obligation.
The following table shows how maternity and paternity allowance varies across countries in the MENA region:
|Country||Who pays?||Length of maternity leave||Percentage of wage paid||Length of paternity leave||Percentage of wage paid|
|Egypt||Employer & Government||90 days||100%||0||N/A|
|Saudi Arabia||Employer||70 days||100%||3 days||100%|
|Bahrain||Employer||60 days||100%||1 day||100%|
|Kuwait||Employer||70 days||100%||1 day||N/A|
|Iran||Social Security||180 days||67%||10||100%|
|Jordan||Social Security||70 days||100%||N/A||N/A|
|Palestine||Social Security||84 days||100%||N/A||N/A|
|Tunisia||Social Security||30 days||67%||1 day||100%|
|Algeria||Social Security||98 days||100%||3 days||100%|
|Israel||Social Security||26 weeks||100%||1 week (shared with the woman)||100%|
|Morocco||Social Security||98 days||100%||3 days||100%|
What is paternity leave?
Paternity leave allows a new father to take time off work to help support and raise their new child in the first few weeks of the child’s life. It can allow the father to bond with the child and ease pressure on the mother. For the business, this kind of perk can boost employee loyalty. In some countries, it is a legal obligation to provide paid time off for paternity leave.
Managing paternity and maternity leave
The kind of paternity or maternity leave policy you create for your employees will depend on your business and local context. Here’s how to manage your employees’ maternity leave:
- Educate yourself on employee maternity leave and paternity leave rights in your country.
- Decide if you want a policy for all employees, or one that fits individuals.
- Analyse your existing benefits – from company car to pension schemes – and decide how they will be affected by the maternity leave.
- Plan for the time the employee will be off – decide if you wish to recruit temporary staff.
- Organise a handover between the temp staff and the permanent employee.
- Phase in the employee’s return at the end of paternity or maternity leave.
- Be flexible and consider work-life balance as the employee settles back to work, while raising a child.
How can you keep track of leave applications?
As your company grows, you will have to manage a growing number of employee leave requests – anything from a new baby to family vacations to trips to Mecca. While employees have a right to paid time off, the business also needs to ensure it stays on top of employee attendance.
Today, many companies use an attendance management system, which provides them with a clear and easy-to-understand dashboard that shows who is off work, why, and how much of their allowance they have used up.
Sage Business Cloud Enterprise Management provides you with start of the art tools to manage your people, including leave applications.