Recruitment and retention considerations

Be Alert Middle East: employment law e-bulletin

Dubai has been ranked the most competitive city in the Middle East and Abu Dhabi is second in the region, according to a Hot Spots report by Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Citi.

The rankings are based on a city’s ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists. The reduction in rents, completion of large scale construction and development projects, as well as the general doom and gloom in Europe are just a few of the significant factors in aiding the UAE’s recovery.

Whether your business is new to the region or expanding its current workforce within the UAE and/or across the Middle East, having appropriate recruitment processes and procedures in place for your workforce will assist with your selection of the right candidates for your business and compliance with the relevant legal requirements.

We suggest that you have in place a process relating to the following key areas:

  • Nationalisation and diversification requirements, which differ in each Middle Eastern jurisdiction
  • Pre-recruitment checks, including criminal or other professional background checks
  • Applying for work and residence permissions
  • Re-location and loan agreements
  • Payroll and wage protection requirements
  • Data protection issues
  • Content of offer letters and subsequent employment contracts
  • Training, including on-key issues such as anti-corruption and bribery, together with cultural training to highlight the principal issues that employees should be aware of while living in the Middle East.

The policies and processes may differ depending on the roles you are recruiting for and the location of your business.

Surveys indicate that the average ex-pat life span in the region has also increased, with the average stay around eight years. Retaining talent is therefore also a key consideration to factor into your post-recruitment processes, and as part of this we recommend:

  • Reviewing benefits packages to take account of any group schemes, such as pension or bonus, as well as local mandatory benefits, such as end of service gratuity
  • Preparing bespoke contractual terms that take into account the protection of your investment in customer connections and your confidential information
  • Deterring key talent from using trade secrets and know how for the advantage of your competitors, by putting in place reasonable restrictive covenants, such as non-compete and non-solicitation provisions.

Our Employment, Pensions & Benefits team has extensive knowledge across industry sectors and the Middle Eastern jurisdictions. With offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, we are up to date with the legal landscape across these regions, with capabilities in English and Arabic.

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