For today’s Money Monday post, I would like to share about some of the financial things that I deal with working for ADEC. I consider myself to be a fair-minded individual, and that’s the perspective I intend to write this from. Too often I see folks complaining about the way things are here, and I soon start to call their judgment about those things into question, because I usually find those people are the ones who have made no allowances for living and working in a foreign land.
When I was researching job prospects in the UAE, I spent time on websites like Dave’s ESL Cafe and many others, and that was a good way to determine what schools an organizations played fair with their employees. Of course, I tempered my reading with knowledge that people who get themselves in trouble out of their own idiocy are often to be the loudest Internet complainers. So I’d like to address the issue of pay (not the rate as much as other aspects) in a level-headed fashion, because it’s the kind of thing I’d have liked for someone to elaborate upon when I was job-hunting and when I was trying to figure out what to expect.
So I’m going to talk about what it’s like to be receiving pay from an Emirati organization. First, let me address expectations: I was told that ADEC gives annual raises, and having that expectation in mind, I was disappointed to see that it’s not in my contract. My grade level coordinator has an older contract from a year before I came, and the wording of his contract is different–he is promised the raise. But he hasn’t ever gotten it, since one of the Sheikhs issued a decree last year freezing all pay. So that expectation was quashed. Another expectation has to do with timely pay for the first major payment into our bank accounts–our housing allowance, with which we purchase necessities like furniture for the empty apartments we’re provided. This allowance didn’t arrive until the end of August, meaning that I spent nearly a month in Abu Dhabi without the means to purchase any of the things I would be needing very soon. When the money arrived, I scrambled to get all the stuff I needed. But then, before I’d managed to get any bedroom furniture, ADEC moved me from the Intercontinental to the crappy Hilton in Al Ain, where I had one day off before being shuttled to various orientations. At the Hilton, we were told upon arrival that we’d be given up to two weeks to get our housing all squared away, and then that was suddenly changed after four days, when it was unceremoniously announced, via a slip of paper under the door, that all ADEC teachers were expected to check out the next morning. The wife and I spent the next night at a friend’s apartment, and then slept on our own couches, before a friend lent us mattresses to throw on the floor until we got our bedroom furniture from Ikea. So the expectation to receive the initial housing allowance in a timely manner was quashed. I’m not sharing these experiences because I’m bitter, but because it’s the way things happened.
ADEC pays teachers on the 25th of each month. After the initial month’s pay didn’t arrive, I had to wait until September to finally be paid. At the end of September, I’d been without a paycheck for quite some time. ADEC did pay me, on September 25, a prorated salary for August, and they paid me my regular amount for September, so that paycheck (or direct deposit, actually) was pretty large.
ADEC provides tickets to get teachers from their country of origin to the UAE. Until today, the only complications in this area were due to different expectations–we were told that I would be issued a ticket and that the wife would have to follow me at a later date, and that we should plan accordingly. If you’ve read our old posts, you know this isn’t what happened at all. At the end of July, ADEC’s travel agency sent an e-mail verifying our travel information, and then they sent an itinerary for both of us to fly at the same time. Plans were already made, and unable to alter them, we contacted the travel agency and had them issue only one ticket. After waiting a month to get my passport with work visa back, we gave up waiting and bought our own ticket for her to come join me. That resulted in a few complications, but nothing difficult to deal with. ADEC reimbursed us fully for her airfare. Today there is a new complication, however. Rather than buying tickets for all teachers to go home during the summer months, ADEC provides funds for you to purchase your own tickets. This amount is supposed to vary based upon your location, of course, but they have always been generous and provided plenty of money for folks to buy tickets on nice airlines like Emirates or Etihad. This year there seems to have been some kind of goof–some of us, including yours truly, aren’t receiving anywhere near enough money to cover our flights. I say it’s a goof because word is that ADEC honestly messed up–“a clerical error,” some say, resulting in wild variances and discrepancies. At any rate, the allowance to go home generally seems to be substantially less than it has been. As I write, I still have hope that this will be corrected, because I’m scheduled to receive, for my family, a mere 9450 AED, or about $2,600, and at the moment the cheapest flights (not even ones via Emirates or Etihad) to Atlanta are showing up at $1,800 a piece via SkyScanner. This is disconcerting for obvious reasons. We’ll see if ADEC fixes this. If not, there will be much justifiable anger.
And what about sick days? Are we paid for them? Yes, as long as we go to a doctor and get a certain form rubber stamped and then submit that to our school’s secretary and to ADEC itself, via their clumsy and unintuitive webpage (hey, that’s true, not bitter or angry). I had an issue pop up when they tried to deny me pay for one of my three sick days I took over the course of the year. It turned out I needed to go get a stamp that was missing applied to my doctor’s note. That was a bit of a pain in the neck, but after re-uploading my form with the required stamp, I was all set.
Another thing that impacts some people’s wallets comes in the form of what people are told when they interview for the job. Besides not receiving the annual raise, teachers who come in the summer having just completed their degrees (I’m speaking of Master’s or higher), will end up only receiving the pay for the degree they had before. My friend and coworker, who shall remain here unnamed, finished up with his Master’s degree in Education after he interviewed for his position in the spring. “Don’t worry,” they said, “You’ll get paid on the Master’s pay scale. All you will have to do is turn in the authenticated copy of your degree and we will make sure you’re paid accordingly, since you’ll have had the degree prior to actually working for us.” That hasn’t happened. In fact, after much hassling to make sure he had everything done right, and after being congratulated for an upcoming pay raise by a woman in the Al Ain ADEC office, he received an e-mail from the lady in charge of OK’ing stuff. What did it say? All pay raises were frozen as a result of the decree I mentioned earlier. This defies logic, you say! Yes, I agree. You’re getting the idea of what it’s like to live and work in the UAE.
So that more or less sums up my experience with the topic of being paid. Although I was late being paid my housing allowance, I’ve been paid on time ever since. If ADEC fixes my family’s flight allowance for this summer, I can’t complain.