Conventional Emirates expat benefit packages dead in the water

Published:  6 Nov at 6 PM
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The topic of employer-bestowed perks on top of very basic salaries for expat workers in the UAE has been much discussed in the community over the last few months.

Given that the good old days of ‘everything paid for’ are long gone and replaced by no-frills packages on a one-size-fits-all basis, it’s no surprise that potential expats considering a move to the UAE are looking for alternatives. Most expat workers are resigned to the fact that largesse is not going to be handed down in the future.

Nowadays, a monthly salary only augmented by transport and house rental allowances is the norm, with head-hunters in the region believing the conditions which sparked the bonanza no longer exist. The first lucrative benefits packages were designed to attract top executive-level talents to what was considered a hardship posting.

At the present time, there’s a pool of talent in the region and local companies are tending towards those with experience and knowledge of local markets. Cultural and regional awareness as well as knowledge of Arabic are increasingly important to Middle East employers, and regionalised employment is seen as the way forward, giving no need for an expat package.

However, if a standard package is offered, it may contain much that isn’t relevant for all employees. Paid accommodation is its base, but education allowances and even health insurance may not be needed if the new employee has no family and is already enrolled in a health insurance scheme.

Consulting company Mercer’s latest product may solve the problem, as it’s a flexible benefits scheme aimed at employers which allows employees to choose benefits and coverage relevant to their individual needs. The company is hoping that Middle Eastern employers will see its value as a talent retention tool allowing customisation which will appeal to a diverse workforce.
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