Dubai: Businesses in the UAE – those in retail, F&B, hospitality, and sales – are going in for part-time hires as activity builds up in the run up to the FIFA World Cup opening and the full-on holiday season thereafter. Sources say this is the first time UAE’s freelance visas are getting tested out in full as employers, especially those in the service industry, look to staffing options without having to give them full employment contracts.
It is already happening for requirements as varied as advertising/marketing content creation, store personnel, customer service personnel, etc. Chefs who can show some track record and willing to fly in for a weekend or two are also much sought after. In fact, some of the hottest short-term worker demand is in the F&B space. (The tech and IT services sector has been doing this for some time now, but mostly structured through project contracts.)
The payment terms? Depends on much of a need that particular business has to take on board additional staffing resources.
Sales gigs are aplenty. Retailers offer young college graduates Dh800 per day for a gig at the GITEX Shopper, for example.
Freelance gigs in HR, business development, and procurement, at entry-level to associate positions, can get you between Dh3,000-Dh6,000 per month, depending on the company and seniority of staff. IT technicians rake in Dh 5,000 to Dh 6,000 per month.
Many companies also hire short-term workers when soon-to-be mothers go on maternity leaves, which usually lasts 60 days or more. Depending on the company and the employee's seniority, you can get a reasonable Dh10,000-Dh18,000. Successful candidates sometimes end up getting permanent jobs in these companies.
In rare cases, content writing jobs for a significant event that lasts five to seven days can get you a whopping Dh1,000 per day. Be warned, as these short-term contracts sometimes require you to work at least 10 to 14 hours daily.
In the run-up to the FIFA World Cup, there are several job openings in the food and beverage industry. Online postings from a major human resources supplier for barbacks, food runners and hostesses with packages of Dh 1,800 to Dh 3,600 per month.
As for those seeking freelance work, especially newcomers to the UAE, it is a time to build contacts and lengthen their resumes. It was in April last that the UAE announced a raft of new visa and residency permits to attract/retain new talent and skilled workers from outside.
Residency options - such as the Golden and Green visas for freelancers and self-employed, and the remote work residence permit - are suited for self-employed and start-up founders as they will not need a UAE sponsor or employer.
David Mackenzie, Group Managing Director at Mackenzie Jones Group, said the UAE employment market is poised to become a ‘gig’ economy. Freelancers and short-term contracts are often hired by ad agencies that want to complete a new client pitch, said Mackenzie. Short-term workers are also popular among marketing and events companies, and even with start-ups.
“However, they are still uncommon in several other industries,” said Mackenzie. “Given there are so many new residency types now, companies are reluctant to take on short-term employees.”
Plus, according to Mackenzie, due to the high cost of living and irregular payments for freelance work, residents feel more secure when a spouse or partner has a permanent job.
Part-time work permit holders are allowed to work in another company at the same time as working in the current company on a part-time basis for less than eight hours per day.
If applying as a MoHRE registered applicant, employees would need to provide the following documents (from themselves and their employer):
· A passport copy, valid for at least the next six months
· UAE residence visa copy, valid for at least the next six months
· Labour card copy
· A clear colour photo with a white background
· Education certificate to be attested from the origin country and then further in English or Arabic by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs
· An approval letter from the competent authority for certain professionals (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, etc.)
· Employment contract copy
· Companies' valid trade license copy
· No Objection Certificate, permitting the employee to work part-time.
These applicants must provide the following additional documents, including the ones mentioned above:
· Visa of workers and their sponsors valid UAE residence visa, for women expats who have UAE residence visa under sponsor from family.
· No Objection Certificate from the university or school of those sponsored through the institute.
· Guardian approval for children of UAE National women.
· Submission approval from the professional authority where applicable (Ministry of Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Sports, Youth, Community Development Authority)
That’s the prevailing sentiment with most expats, who prefer the security that full-time employment offers. While many employees may opt for part-time time while retaining their primary job, only a few choose to become ‘full-time freelancers’, top HR and recruitment heads have said.
The Golden and Green visas remain the most sought residency permits, closely followed by fixed-term employment contracts, said Libbie Burtinshaw, Head of Operations at PRO Partner Group. “We haven’t noticed a prominent increase regarding companies hiring short-term or freelance workers to try and be more cost-effective,” said Libbie.
However, recruitment firms have seen a number of employees opting for Golden Visas, where eligible, and then getting a labour card for two years under the company. “While there is some interest in freelance visas, since most of these are issued under a free zone, they can be restrictive.”
Short-term jobs for students?
Prof. Paul Hopkinson, head of Edinburgh Business School and the School of Social Sciences, said freelance and short-term job stints can be an excellent preparation for students.
“This gives them hands-on experience to familiarize themselves - this is more important than ever due to the rapid pace at which the job market is changing,” said Prof. Hopkinson.
From a company’s perspective, short-term and temporary contracts are advantageous to meet short-term staffing needs, he added.
“They (employees) are often used for a specific task or purpose and for a set duration of time,” Prof. Hopkins said. “Short-term contracts could increase flexibility within the workforce, and provided the individual is provided with the same benefits as the rest of the permanent staff, as required under UAE Labour Law, the arrangement can be beneficial to both parties.”
However, whether they are better than permanent contracts depends on the company’s and the employee’s needs.