Final guidance has been issued by the DIFC, a special economic zone in Dubai, on the implementation of the new DIFC Employee Workplace Savings plan (DEWS), which replaces the current end-of-service gratuity payment plan for expatriate employees. The plan, effective 1 February 2020, requires employers to make contributions to a funded and professionally managed defined contribution (DC) pension scheme on behalf of their employees.


Employers have until 1 March 2020, to enroll their employees in a Qualifying Scheme. Qualifying Schemes will include both mandatory contributions for employers and voluntary contributions for employees. Employers will need to make updates to their HRIS to allow uploads of the monthly contribution files and transfer the contributions to the master trustee of the plan for investments.

The default scheme, DEWS, has the following benefits for employers and employees at DIFC:

  • The DEWS plan will be regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority as a master trust scheme, meaning each employer has its own division in the arrangement.
  • Employers will contribute 5.83% per month for employees with less than five years of service and 8.33% for employees with greater than five years of service. Employee contribution is voluntary with no cap. There are exemptions allowed, such as short-term employees, equity partners and employees working for government departments.
  • Employees will only be subject to an annual management charge ranging between 1.26% to 1.33%, depending on their risk profile.
  • The DEWS plan will have default investment options but employees will have the choice of preselected managed funds with varying levels of risk.
  • The DEWS system will track contributions, investments, portfolio valuations and request withdrawals.

Any employees with accrued gratuity benefits before DEWS will still receive the balance of those funds. Additional gratuity benefits will not accrue after February 2020, but employers will be required to calculate the entitlement based on their final salary at the time of termination. Employers can choose to pay the accrued benefits into DEWS or another Qualifying Scheme.

If an employer chooses not to implement with DEWS, employers may request a Certificate of Compliance from the DIFC Authority for an alternative Qualifying Scheme. Qualifying Schemes must include representation for both employers and employees and independent oversight to protect the interest of the employees. Qualifying Schemes must also include an oversight body that will have the power to appoint and remove the scheme operator, review the governance of the scheme and review the fees and charges imposed on the scheme.

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Next steps

Employers will need to make updates to their HRIS to allow uploads of the monthly contribution files and transfer the contributions to the plan trustee for investment.

Please click here for more information on the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings plan (DEWS).

Additional resources

DEWS information website