Dubai government pension plan will enrol foreign workers in stages

Retirement scheme will play key role in boosting economic and social stability for expatriate employees, steering committee says

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Non-Emirati employees working in Dubai’s government and public sector will be enrolled in the emirate's new savings retirement scheme in phases, said Abdulla Al Basti, Secretary General of the Dubai Executive Council and chairman of the steering committee overseeing the pension system.

The retirement plan will play a crucial role in enhancing the economic and social stability that Dubai offers its employees while strengthening the emirate’s position as a financial centre, Mr Al Basti said in a statement after the steering committee held its first meeting on Tuesday.

“The savings scheme ensures financial security, fortifies employer-employee relationships and, most importantly, presents a robust opportunity for employees looking to invest their savings,” he said.

The savings scheme was announced last Wednesday by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, who said the fund would make the emirate more attractive to people from around the world.

The system will be in addition to the existing gratuity scheme. End-of-service gratuities are lump-sum payments that all employed residents are entitled to after completing at least one year of service. Gratuity payments are covered by the UAE Labour Law and the sum depends on an employee’s length of service and their basic salary.

The Dubai retirement fund scheme, which will be supervised by a board of trustees with assistance from Dubai International Finance Centre, will apply global best practices, the steering committee said.

Foreign employees working in Dubai’s public sector will be enrolled in the savings scheme by default and the employer will contribute the total end-of-service gratuity to the plan from the date of joining, without including the financial dues for previous years of service.

“The percentage of the contribution to the scheme will equal the end-of-service benefits due to the employee, in accordance with human resources legislation,” the steering committee said.

“In the event that the employee is promoted or has changed his role, a change in contributions will become effective.”

The rate of return will depend on the amount invested by employees, how it is distributed across available investment portfolios and the risks associated with it, the statement said.

Employees can also choose to make their own contributions to the scheme and will have the right to withdraw their personal savings at any time. However, employee participation in the scheme will stop at the end of their service.

“At this point, employees have the right to withdraw their entire end-of-service-gratuity amount or can choose to remain in the scheme,” the statement said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put employee financial issues in the spotlight and many companies are now trying to formulate plans to help workers bridge their savings gap.

A 2020 survey by Mercer found that 45 per cent of foreign employees in the UAE either had no means of maintaining a decent standard of living in their retirement, or plan to work beyond retirement age to derive enough income for their latter years.

With the scheme in place, Dubai will continue to be an attractive career destination that appeals to outstanding talent and a preferred destination for personal and professional stability
Abdulla Al Basti, Secretary General of the Dubai Executive Council

A lack of financial awareness was also an issue among respondents, with 61 per cent saying they had no long-term savings.

The DIFC was the first entity in the UAE to set up a new gratuity system when it introduced the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings plan, or Dews, in February 2020.

The free zone’s employers are required to make monthly contributions of 5.83 per cent or 8.33 per cent of an employee’s wage, depending on their length of service, to a fund administered by a trust.

Employees can also choose to make voluntary contributions to the Dews plan.

The Dubai government savings scheme will offer expatriate employees a choice of capital protection investment plans, including Sharia-compliant options.

Employees can choose to deposit all their savings in one investment portfolio. However, they can also spread their savings across several investment portfolios, from low to high risk.

“The scheme is one of many initiatives that have highlighted the government's commitment to ensuring employee satisfaction, in appreciation of their efforts and dedication,” Mr Al Basti said.

“With the scheme in place, Dubai will continue to be an attractive career destination that appeals to outstanding talent and a preferred destination for personal and professional stability.”

Updated: March 15, 2022, 3:35 PM