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Survey Report

End-of-Service Benefits in the Gulf Cooperation Council — 2023 report

December 15, 2023

The survey tracks how organizations in the Middle East are structuring and funding their end-of-service benefits with a look to the outlook over the next five years. Discover the key findings and trends.
Health and Benefits|Retirement|Ukupne nagrade |Work Transformation|Investments

End-of-service benefits (ESBs) are lump-sum payments given to expatriate employees in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on leaving employment with any employer. These are entitlements mandated by labour laws in the region and are provided in lieu of retirement benefits.

ESBs continue to be unfunded as they are paid out of company accounts instead of being ringfenced and often fall short as adequate substitutes for retirement savings. Recent regulatory changes in the region point to a shift from the traditional pay-as-you-go end-of-service benefits to funded arrangements that protect these entitlements for employees.

The WTW End-of-Service Benefits in the Gulf Cooperation Council 2023 Survey looks at:

  • Whether organizations in the region consider these benefits fit for purpose and what actions are they taking to address any shortcomings.
  • The level of provision, structure and delivery of employee end-of-service benefits (ESB) since 2010.
  • Employers’ perspectives on the regulatory changes and the outlook for end-of-service benefits over the next five years.

Key findings

Nearly all the organizations in the survey provide end-of-service benefits in the GCC. However, only three in ten organizations feel these benefits are highly effective in providing adequate retirement outcomes. (Figure 1).

Enhancing ESB has become market best practice

Over half of respondents say providing enhanced ESBs is industry best practice (55%) and a fifth that it is local best practice (18%). The retention of key talent (36%) and competitive pressure (27%) are also top reasons for enhancing ESBs (Figure 2).

Two in three organizations that enhance their ESBs do so for all their employees (Figure 3), but some organizations provide enhanced ESBs to specific employee categories.

End-of-service benefits continue to be unfunded

7 in 10 organizations indicate that they do not fund ESB but settle employees’ benefits as they become due from company assets (Figure 4). Where organizations fund their ESB liabilities, they typically tend to keep the funds either under a separate trust or by using a contract vehicle.

There’s a shift towards funded solutions

Recent regulatory changes in the GCC indicate a shift towards funded solutions for end-of-service benefits. Almost two in five organizations expect end-of-service benefits to shift to a contributory system of private plans over the next five years, while one in three expect it to be a system of contributory government plans. (Figure 5).

For more detailed findings, please complete the form on the right to access the full report.


Senior Director, Integrated & Global Solutions

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