Zurich Workplace Solutions (ZWS), a subsidiary of Zurich International Life Limited and scheme administrator for the new Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Employee Workplace Solutions (DEWS) programme has said it onboarded 1,100 DIFC-based firms into the ground-breaking scheme as at the end of last month.
Officially launched on the 1 February 2020, 1,100 organisations or close to 85% of eligible employers undertook the required measures to enroll into the scheme within the extended deadline of the 30 April.
Zurich said that, of the 1,100 now enroled, 750 have made the gratuity contributions for their employees into the plan, with the remaining due to complete the requirements shortly.
More than 16,000 employees have been onboarded and can now access their DEWS member portal to view and manage their contributions, Zurich confirmed."
More than 16,000 employees have been onboarded and can now access their DEWS member portal to view and manage their contributions, the firm said.
Described as a "progressive end-of-service benefits scheme for expatriate workers," DEWS was introduced within the DIFC to restructure the currently defined employee benefit scheme into a funded, professionally-managed and defined contribution plan that is aligned with international standards.
The original deadline of 31 March for enrolment and 21 April for contribution was reviewed by DIFC Authority (DIFCA) and the DEWS Supervisory Board in context of covid-19 developments and its resulting impact on businesses, and an extension was granted to employers.
Even with the extension, there was a significant last minute rush for enrolment with over 200 companies enroling in the last week of April, and close to 350 companies missing the contribution deadline.
Under the DIFC employment law, eligible employers that fail to comply with the deadline could attract a financial penalty of $2,000 per employee per breach.
In the run-up to the deadline the support team from Zurich Workplace Solutions has been assisting a number of organisations by explaining the changes to the law, the steps to ensuring compliance and completing the enrolment formalities.
"We have been working closely with organisations and helping them with enrolment and contribution payments. In the last week alone, the ZWS team has responded to over 2,500 calls and live chats, and in excess of 4,000 emails.
"We have been coordinating closely with the DIFC and the Trustees (Equiom), to help smaller companies who have made significant efforts to comply but have been unable to enroll in time due to factors outside their control. A number of these organisations will complete the remaining formalities in the next few days" said Reena Vivek, senior executive officer of Zurich Workplace Solutions.
For Zurich, the focus now shifts to supporting employers with ongoing monthly contributions, and additionally helping them setup processes to support employees who wish to make voluntary contributions or transfer accrued gratuity into the DEWS plan. Under a recent directive issued by the DIFC, employees have the benefit of End of Service Gratuity Payment Protection if salaries are reduced after 1 March and if they choose to transfer any accrued gratuity into the DEWS plan.
Zurich Workplace Solutions says it will also be helping the 16,000 plus employees who are now members of the DEWS plan understand the scheme and its benefits, and assist them with any ongoing support requirements.
"We remain committed to continuing to support the DIFC employer and employee community on their DEWS journey and are dedicated to continuously enhancing the support we provide," said Vivek.