Stock Dirhams
Hit with a double-whammy of illness and job loss? It's a worry that stalks residents, and which will force them to drastically rework their financial planning. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Here’s a shocker – 57 per cent of the UAE’s workforce are woefully unprepared financially if they were suddenly hit with a critical illness. In these circumstances, they wouldn’t have the financial means for more than three months if the illness forces them to leave their jobs.

And even worse, a quarter of the respondents in the survey say they would not even survive beyond a month financially. The findings further confirm what many have been worrying about of late. That in a year of the COVID-19, many find they don’t have the grip on their finances and future they thought they had.

The poll “shines a light on the average UAE employees’ unpreparedness for critical illness – especially the impact that debilitating illness can have on earnings and financial survival,” says Stuart Shilcock, Head of Sales, Middle East at Friends Provident International, which commissioned the survey. It received responses from over 1,000 UAE employees.

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Critical Illness Infographic
Grim chances… UAE’s workforce, or a good number of them, need to get a handle on their finances. Image Credit: Supplied

Single people were more confident that they could survive financially for three months compared with either married employees, or employees with kids. And yet, a full 66 per cent of singles believed that they could not survive for three months financially if they fell ill and lost their jobs shows.

This shows “the high level of financial unpreparedness even amongst single people with few dependents,” says Shilcock.

Demographic factor
Over two-thirds of Emirati, Arab expat and Asian workers didn’t believe they could survive financially for three months if they fell ill and lost their jobs.

Western employees were even less confident of surviving financially, with 71% believing that they could not last three months if they became ill and couldn’t work.

These numbers are particularly worrying when one considers that expats don’t have the same statutory benefits that exist in many of their home countries.

More confident about chances

Women were marginally more confident that they could survive financially for three months after becoming seriously ill and losing their jobs. But only 12 per cent of men polled and 14 per cent of women believed they could survive a full 12 months.

Most surprisingly, older employees (45 plus age group) were less confident of surviving the first six months than younger employees. But older employees made up the largest group, 17 per cent, of those who believed they could survive up to 12 months.

This indicates “a slightly higher level of financial preparedness amongst a nonetheless still very small segment of older employees,” says Shilcock. However one looks at the data, the vast majority of employees of all ages remained unprepared for critical illness.