Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Working in the UAE: How Different Is It?

On this same day last year, I was preparing to go home for my sister’s college graduation. I was already losing hope of finding a job here in the UAE. I arrived sometime September and started applying for jobs in October. I attended a number of interviews and was able to be in the final shortlist on some but still, I remained jobless.  I honestly felt bobo that time.  I mean hello, I’ve been working for more than 14 years and I think I have a pretty good set of credentials naman pero bakit hindi ako makakuha ng trabaho? Maybe I am under qualified?  I tried applying to entry-level positions but then they told me I am over qualified.  On positions that I am qualified on the other hand, hindi naman ako makalusot.  Susmio, hindi ko malaman saan ako lulugar.

So when I went home for a short vacation, I told myself I am going to enjoy. Because when I get back, I am yet to face again the fact that I am still jobless and will be spending my day at home doing chores. Not that I hate or I don’t know how to do housechores ha, domesticated ata ang yours truly hindi nyo lang alam. But I can just say that since the time I arrived until early April of last year, I was a totally different me. 

But as they say, everything happens in God’s time. I was still in Pinas enjoying my time in Palawan when Mr. X told me that one of the companies I’ve applied to, called him and looked for me. Thank god for call-diverts. Hahaha!  The funny thing was before I left for vacation, I already got a regret letter from them saying that they will no longer push through with my application. In short, butata na naman si ako. Then they had a change of mind. So there, I went home 2nd week of April and after a week of preparation, I was again back to working.

Ang bilis ng panahon, now it’s almost a year since I got back to working.  At times I still ask myself, bakit pa nga ba ako nagwork e mas masarap kumain at matulog (of course after ko maglaba, maglinis at magluto no!) sa bahay. But unfortunately, it’s not enough that only the husband works these days. In our case, there are a lot of things we need to prepare for.

After working for almost a year here in the UAE, let me just give you some things one has to remember when working here.  I'm pretty sure there's a whole lot more but for now, let me share with you the following:

1.  First and foremost, working here in the UAE is tax-free. Yes my friends, you get to bring home your salary in full.  Walang bawas, walang kulang. Not unless of course you have deductibles to begin with like loans, absences, etc. No need to pay for any personal or income tax.  After getting deducted by 32% on most of the years I’ve worked in PH, this is something I really appreciate from working here in the UAE. We all know where most, if not all, of our taxes go in Pinas. Masaya na lahat ng pinaghirapan mo nakukuha mo, at hindi napupunta sa bulsa ng mga buwaya.

2.  Typically, a workweek starts on a Sunday and ends on Thursday. While most get to have a two-day weekend, some gets only a one-day off.  In my case, I get a two-days off.  Yebah!

3.  During Ramadan, a work day of 8hrs (for some it’s 9) gets reduced by two hours.  So if you usually go home at 4pm, you can then pack up and leave by 2pm.  That is, if you can bear the scorching heat of the sun since Ramadan falls in summer.  I remember last year when I attempted to leave the office at 3pm, I decided to just go back and stay for another 2 hours just because I couldn’t take the heat outside. It really felt like I was in a sauna and that my life is being sucked out of me.  Hindi ko kinaya!

4.  Also during Ramadan, you should not eat or drink in public during fasting hours. This isn’t a rule per se, but as a sign of respect, one should not be seen eating or drinking.  Though I heard that some Muslims would really call the attention of those who eat or drink during fasting hours.  So just to be sure na huwag mapahiya (or masabihang bastos) don't even think about it.  Besides, you can eat or drink somewhere that you can't be seen.  In the office, the water dispensers have been put away and should you need to eat or drink, you need to come down to the pantry.  In malls, restaurants are closed and they open after sunset for Iftar.

5.  Unlike in PH where you get paid twice in a month, you get your salary here in a monthly basis. Yes, buwanan! So be ready with your budgeting skills. Mahirap magstretch ng budget for a whole month, ha.

6.  For women who just gave birth, they are entitled to go home an hour earlier (for some, it’s two) every day for 18 months.  This is of course on top of the paid maternity leaves.

7.  UAE is considered to be the melting pot of different cultures so it's not really impossible to  have officemates from different countries. If sa Pinas, ang usual lang is American, Indian, Chinese or British, dito halos lahat meron.  Sometimes, if there's a meeting, I'd say may ongoing forum ang United Nations.  Whehehe, korni.

8. Arabic might be the national language here in the UAE but you'd be surprised that almost everybody speaks English.  Swerte mo if you have officemates na Pinoy, because if not, pati chismisan would still be in English. Nosebleed pa more, yeah!

9. For every year of service, an employee is entitled to a minimum of one-month annual leave. Some employers even provide a plane ticket to the employee's home country every year (for some, two) should he be an expat. I'm not really sure if this is by law or by discretion of the company.  If you won't be going back to your home country for vacation e di bongga, since you can actually en-cash the plane ticket instead.

10. There's something called as an employment ban here in the UAE. If you're an expat and  working in a private sector and decides to resign without completing a minimum of two years service, you will not be allowed to work in another company for 6 months. Unless 1) you'd be transferring to a government office or 2) you are working in a company located in a free zone  or 3) the work you'd be transferring to is offering a higher salary (there's a minimum pay required, depends on your educational attainment or 4) you are able to get an NOC (Letter of No Objection) from your current employer.  Mejo malabo sakin actually ang labor ban na ito because though I resigned only after 6 months of working in my first job which belongs to a private sector, I transferred naman to a government office.  

Ano pa ba? I really couldn't think of anything else.  Maybe pag tumagal-tagal pa ako dito then I'll be able to share more.  

So what do I like from working here in the UAE?  For me, it would have to be the fact that I don't need to pay for income tax and that during Ramadan, work hours get reduced by 2 hrs.  And oh, the free plane ticket every year.   So far, yun lang.  

Ikaw, what do you like from working here in the UAE?

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Unknown said...

Missing the 13th month pay sa Pinas haha and double pay during holidays like holy week. also no OT pay for most offices in private sector, not sure in government though.. Regarding sa NOC, one can still get a ban even if the previous company provides a NOC because labor ban is automatically implemented by labor mismo.

Iambrigitte said...

Hahaha thanks for the inputs jenisse! Tama ka nakakamiss ang 13th month pay 😁 pero okay na din ako dito when it comes sa sahod kasi nga non-taxable 😁

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