Question: I'm employed at a company based in Dubai. I submitted a leave application for the forthcoming summer vacation, but my manager declined it, stating that another colleague will also be on leave during that period. Is this legal? I have already purchased and paid for my travel tickets, along with making other necessary arrangements.

Answer: In the UAE, employers have the authority to determine the timing of annual leave for their employees, considering work demands and rotating leave schedules. This is in line with Article 29(4) of Federal Decree Law No. 33 of 2021, which governs employment relations in the UAE. It specifies that employers can set leave dates based on work requirements and in consultation with the employee, and must inform the employee of their leave date at least one month in advance.

However, employers are obligated to provide annual leave at least once every two years, unless the employee agrees to defer the leave or receive payment in lieu. According to Article 29(8) of the UAE Employment Law, an employer cannot prevent an employee from taking accrued annual leave for more than two years without the employee's consent.

Your employer might be justified in denying your leave request due to operational needs and the rotation of other employees' leave. Nevertheless, if your employer previously agreed in writing to grant you leave, they might be responsible for the costs of your already-purchased tickets.

The UAE Employment Law does not explicitly provide remedies for such situations. It is advisable to secure written pre-approval for your annual leave from your employer before making any vacation plans to avoid financial losses.

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, qualified to practice law in Dubai, the UK, and India. For more information, visit Readers can email their questions to or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.