Many expats who come to work in Dubai are not very familiar with the local job market and therefore unable to assess whether their salary is in line with what is usual for similar positions or whether they should ask for a rise. It is even more complicated with employee benefits, which can be harder to measure in monetary terms and harder to compare. Many new expats will find that the employee benefits typical in Dubai are quite different from what is common in their home country.
To a great extent the differences and specifics of Dubai employee benefits arise from the fact that majority of the workforce is comprised of expatriates. Besides the perks that most people would expect, like housing allowance (or less frequently actual accommodation) or medical insurance, many employers offer to pay for flight tickets when you are visiting relatives in your home country. Some types of benefits are common for more senior positions – these include utility allowance, furniture allowance or a car.
Many expats come to Dubai with their families and appreciate employee benefits which make family life in the unfamiliar environment a bit easier. Flexible working hours or the ability to work from home on some days are high on the list, as in most other countries.
Children’s education is one area where your employer can make a big difference. If you want your children to attend the best Dubai schools, it can be both very expensive and very difficult, as the competition for places is comparable to, if not fiercer than, the notorious places like London or New York. Your employer can not only cover big portion of the fees, but may also help you secure a place.
Many UK citizens working in Dubai prefer their children to attend a boarding school or college back in the UK. Your employer may be willing to help in that case too, but it is less common.
With regards to family related benefits it is important to keep in mind that the Islamic Sharia Law applies in Dubai. In some situations (e.g. when adopted children or unmarried parents are involved) your children or family arrangements may not be fully recognized as legitimate by some companies, although the rules tend to be less strictly followed in the expat environment.
Another large group of benefits common in Dubai are those which directly bring more cash to the employee’s bank account. Dubai companies (even some in the public sector) tend to be more willing to provide various commission and bonus schemes, which in other countries are usually limited to just a few industries, such as finance. Many Dubai expats report that their base salary often accounts for as little as 60 or 70 percent of total compensation. Bonuses for exceptional out-performance may reach multiples of base salary.
Not least, probably the greatest benefit of all is the absence of income taxes.