Leave Application Management


July 2021

Understanding Leave Application Management Software

Sometimes managing leave for all the staff in a company can feel like a game of Twister. You are spread across seven different corners of managing employees, and it feels like you are twisting all over the place to get to all the corners where they are needed. It can be tricky.

If your HR software is not managing employees’ leave – all aspects of it – it is time to move into the 2020s and get the right software. Trust us, it will make all the difference.

Why is leave application management important?

The number one reason for having a reliable leave management system in place is for accurate payroll processing. A good leave application process also drives the employee experience, leading to better employee engagement and productivity.

Kick out the spreadsheets. They are most often not updated promptly – or accurately – enough. Some departments would be better than others, but you might have trouble enforcing leave application management policies and processes across departments.

Leave management software helps to streamline everyday operations, and HR can track absenteeism for each employee, and the reasons for absences. You can quickly identify where potential trouble broods, ensuring the wellbeing of each employee. This will reflect directly on the bottom line. If employees are over- or underworked, productivity suffers. Perhaps attitudes too. With this software, you can spot this, address it, and maintain productivity at healthy levels.

Legal framework for leave applications


The UAE operates under a dual employment law framework. Employees in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) or Abu Dhabi Global Marketplace (ADGM) free zones are subject to the DIFC Law No. 2 of 2019 and ADGM Employment Regulations 2019. All other employees in the UAE private sector, including other UAE free zones, are subject to Federal Law No. 8 of 1980.

These laws provide the legal framework of what workers’ entitlement is for annual leave, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, Hajj or pilgrimage leave, special leave and study leave.

Other regions in the Middle East and North Africa have their own laws governing employees’ rights to leave entitlement. For this post, we will refer to the UAE laws, and discuss specific entitlements under each relevant section pertaining to the UAE.

Types of leave applications

Leave application management systems simplify life. This software can manage all the different types of leave in a company while customising the experience for the users: the employees.

Sick leave

Several studies have found that an average employee is absent for six working days per year, more or less, with the most frequent causes for short-term absences being colds and flu, whereas mental health is most frequently cited for long-term absences. 

Sick leave is mostly unplanned. Effective HR leave management allows the business to accurately record sickness absences. The system can extract reports on sick leave trends to spot potential issues, allow staff to upload relevant documents like fitness notes, and can even have trigger points for lengths or instances of absence.

In the UAE, an employee is entitled to have up to 90 days per year of sick leave, after a three-month period post probation, with 15 days at full pay, 30 days thereafter at half the wage, followed by 45 days of unpaid sick leave.

Maternity/Paternity leave

Manage parental leave for employees with leave application software. Let the leave application system track when parental leave starts, when it is due to end, and when maternity leave is paid at full or half pay or no pay. The software automatically updates with legislative changes, making compliance with the labour law easier.

In the UAE, women employed in the private sector are entitled to 45 days of paid maternity leave. Their equivalents in the government’s employ receive 90 days of paid maternity leave. Fathers in the public sector are entitled to three days of paid paternity leave. However, their equivalents in the private sector only received paternity leave entitlement in August last year (2020), putting private-sector men on a more equal footing with public-sector men, creating more equality in the region.

Since August 2020, private-sector employees in the UAE are entitled to five additional paid parental leave days within the first six months of their child’s birth. This amendment to the UAE Labour Law has been granted to all private-sector employees, men and women, giving male employees in the private sector five paid paternity leave days. The amendment also adds five additional paid maternity leave days for women in the private sector.

Special leave

Track Special Leave for employees in a leave application program. With intelligent software, you can add different categories of special leave, like compassion, pilgrimage leave, Hajj or Umrah leave.

Study leave

Easily manage study leave entitlement for different employees within the leave management system. This is particularly useful as a tool to track the return on investment for the company when funding an employee’s training. If the employee leaves shortly after using his or her study leave allocation, the business has claw-back policies that it can enforce through the software it runs.

Annual leave

Holiday leave can be tricky to track if you don’t have software that automatically does that for you. According to the Federal Law in the UAE, all UAE employees are eligible for two days per month of paid annual leave if the employee has been more than six months and less than one year at the company, and 30 days per year for employees whose service period exceeds one year.

Employees can also opt to cash in unused holiday leave, which leaves another headache for HR to track for each employee if your leave application software is not up to scratch. Additionally, employees can carry forward unused annual leave only once in two consecutive years, as prescribed by UAE Labour Law.

With good leave application software, employees can track their own leave allocation, how many days they have taken or not, apply for leave days and get it approved by the line manager, in-system, apply to carry forward leave or cash in leave days.

What should be included in a leave application system?

Rule #1: The leave application system must simplify life – for everyone.

Rule #2: It must be reliable and accurate.

Rule #3: Can it also make coffee?

Alright, maybe rule #3 is not crucial. The first two rules are. There are a few basics HR leave application software must do to earn its keep.

All-in-one dashboard

We mentioned simplification. No one wants to spend time figuring out what to do in the system. The user experience must be intuitive and easily navigable. An all-in-one dashboard achieves this. Employees can view and manage their leave balances. Supervisors and HR have access to employee leave balances, holiday lists, department schedules and workforce coverage to better evaluate leave requests.

Automatic leave balance update

An HR leave application program must track the leave history of staff and display it to employees and their managers. If a program doesn’t do it automatically, look for one that does. It saves time and money and eliminates mistakes.


Create customisable workflows and set up a software hierarchy according to the department to streamline the process. When an employee selects a department, the workflow that is predefined will auto-populate.

Additionally, leave application software should allow employers to configure fields in the system that suit the specific company. Look for programs that allow staff to customise fields, such as leave type, policy and holiday lists, to fit around the company’s policies.

Consider the Cloud

This is the next level up. Cloud-based leave management systems offer on-the-go access to employees and supervisors alike, wherever they are, whenever they are. Plus, it offers simplicity, Rule #1. The Cloud eliminates the hassles of software installations, integration, updates, security, etc, etc. (Just by writing that untwisted me and made me feel more relaxed.)

Built-in reporting

Software should include reporting modules that allow employers to extract interactive reports based on specific metrics. This allows companies to analyse patterns and obtain insights that allow for better planning.

Benefits of having a leave management system

Leave management software untwists the leave process in an organisation and in turn untwists tense

muscles. Why take the difficult route if you don’t have to?

The benefits of obtaining worthwhile leave management software are numerous. Just to name a few obvious ones:

  • Goodbye, paperwork. No more pesky spreadsheets.
  • Communication between staff and managers improve immediately. Management can spot when someone is heading for a burn-out or needs additional support.
  • Software stays current with labour law compliance.
  • You have real-time information on all staff absences and attendances at your fingertips. Managing the workforce has just gotten easier.


Leave management software at its best. gulfHR designs leave application modules around exact requirements,with in-depth, UAE-specific HR market expertise, and seamless integration with any system, local and global.

Book a demo with one of our experts to learn more!


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