Nearly half of employees in UAE expect pay hike in 2021


Dubai - Of the total respondents, only two per cent of Emiratis and three per cent of expats foresee a pay cut.

By Waheed Abbas

Published: Sun 28 Mar 2021, 10:17 PM

Nearly half of Emiratis and expats are expecting a salary hike this year, though a larger percentage believe their pay will remain the same, a new poll has found.

Released on Sunday, the Hays 2021 Emiratisation Salary and Employment Report painted a picture not only of the workforce’s plans and expectations this year but also how Covid-19 had impacted their employment. Of the total respondents, only two per cent of Emiratis and three per cent of expats foresee a pay cut.

“The findings certainly reflect our own predictions. We do not expect the pandemic to negatively affect salaries further in 2021. Instead, we expect the majority of salaries to remain the same in 2021 as in 2020 with increases being paid to those hitting required performance targets, regardless of UAE national status,” said Samantha Wright, senior recruitment consultant of Hays Emiratisation division.

When it comes to job numbers, around 49 per cent of UAE nationals and expatriates expect to move employers in 2021, suggesting optimism for the number of available jobs in the local market going forward.

Similarly, the report found 62 per cent of Emirati professionals to be positive about their career prospects in the next 12 months.

“Our observations of the market certainly agree with this. We’ve already seen job numbers increase since the turn of 2021 and we expect this trend to continue going forward, with an added number of opportunities for UAE nationals in the private sector compared to previous years,” she added.

The report also found that the salaries of Emiratis had been more resilient to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic than those of the expatriates in the UAE.

Around 64 per cent of Emiratis’ salaries remained the same in 2020 and 2021, as compared to 46 per cent of expats.

As the poll turned to the negative effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on pay, it found that 10 per cent of Emiratis had their salaries cut, as compared to 21 per cent expatriates.

“On average, the national workforce has been exposed to fewer pay cuts and redundancies than the rest of the UAE’s working population. However, that is not to say that it has been unaffected by market conditions,” said Wright.

“From the survey responses, we estimate that nine per cent of UAE nationals were made redundant in 2020, and specific to pay, UAE nationals actually received fewer pay increases than other professionals working in the country in the last 12 months,” she said.

The report found 33 per cent of expatriates’ salaries to have increased in the past 12 months and 25 per cent of Emiratis received a pay rise.

“Historically, it is true that Emiratisation mandates have meant that some jobs held by Emirati professionals have been protected or exempt from some downturns in the economy, and their pay significantly higher than expat counterparts. However, this is becoming less and less the case. Instead, the disparity in pay has plateaued since the local government revised pay scales in 2019 to reflect real market rates and we expect this to continue going forward,” Wright said.

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