Expats who are offered a job in Abu Dhabi may be unfamiliar with how a contract works in the UAE. It is therefore worth reading up on what exactly a contract entails, how the procedure works and what entitlements an expat can receive when signing a contract in Abu Dhabi.
By understanding all the factors that go into a contract in Abu Dhabi, expats can ensure that they get the best possible employment package to suit their needs.
Entitlements of a contract in Abu Dhabi
Basic entitlements for any job offer in Abu Dhabi include:
Personal life and accident insurance
Additional perks (which vary from company and position) include:
There are companies that provide staff accommodation, which is a very important factor to consider when working in Abu Dhabi because accommodation is quite expensive in the city.
If accommodation is paid for, the monthly water and electricity bill is often also paid by the company.
If accommodation is not provided by the company, one's employment package should comes with a housing allowance.
According to UAE labour law, employees are entitled to an annual leave of 30 days. On recognised public holidays, the day is taken off, with pay.
As a significant number of workers in Abu Dhabi are expats, this entitlement is offered to expats to return home at least once a year. The air ticket entitlement varies according to one's position. The air ticket entitlement is usually offered from Abu Dhabi to an expat's point of origin or point of hire. Some companies allow the air ticket entitlement to cover the whole family.
Personal life and health insurance
Generally, employees are automatically entitled to insurance for accidents, their personal life and medical treatments when joining any company.
Medical insurance is a prerequisite for a residence visa for Abu Dhabi and companies generally organise and finance this for their expat employees. It’s then the individual's responsibility to extend this coverage to their family, though expats in senior positions may have their company cover their dependents as well.
An employer is not entitled to paid sick leave during the probation period.
The maximum sick leave entitlement is 90 days which can either be taken continuously or intermittently. Paid sick leave always requires a medical certificate.
If reassigned to other countries or repatriated, some employers offer relocation assistance. This can involve moving in or out of the country.
Some companies offer educational assistance to their employees' children. Again, this depends on the company policies. There are employers that offer a certain amount of financial aid per child according to their job status.
Duty meal, transportation, laundry and telephone allowance
These benefits vary accordingly. Company-provided transportation is quite common, especially for companies or offices that are not located in the heart of the city.
Terms of a contract in Abu Dhabi
There are a number of factors to take into consideration when applying to work in Abu Dhabi, and expats would do well to understand what is expected of them and their employers.
In Abu Dhabi, as well as the UAE as a whole, salaries are paid on a monthly basis. There are no applicable local taxes and deductions can incur only if one has any personal loans or a salary advance. Expats will need to decide if their salary meets their living expenses.
Length of contract
The period of work tenure in Abu Dhabi is commonly two years, although it varies according to an employee and employer agreement.
It is a common practice to be asked for a medical certificate at least one month before arriving in Abu Dhabi, although it is still compulsory to undergo and pass the local medical exam. An employer cannot proceed with the employment visa process until the medical exam is completed.
If the expat is found to be medically unfit, the consequence will be repatriation. Depending on the company policy, repatriation can either be at the expat or company’s expense. If it's the former, this can involve the expat covering the cost of airline tickets and sometimes even the recruitment expenses.
The common probation period in Abu Dhabi or UAE is six months. During this period, either party can terminate the contract without any notice period and compensation. After six months, the employee will be evaluated for recommendation for permanent employment.
The final cost of repatriation is generally shouldered by the company, except when the cause of termination is due to misconduct, theft, breach of confidentiality, illegal activities and other related reasons set by UAE labour law.
In some employment packages, repatriation includes the cost of shipping one's belongings to their country of origin.
This is also referred to as indemnity or end of service benefit. The calculation of gratuity is determined by the UAE labour law, and the amount is based on an expat's latest basic salary.
Notice of termination
Again, this varies from one company to the other and also the nature of one's job. Generally, the requirement is one month notice period for either party, but many companies implement a two to three months' notice period.
*UAE labour laws are subject to change at short notice and employee policies and entitlements can vary from one company to the other, so expats negotiating a contract for work in Abu Dhabi should consult the UAE Department of Human Resources and Emiratisation for the latest information.