Home Travel Allowance in the Middle East

Several Middle Eastern countries require employers to provide international employees (i.e., expatriates and third-country national employees) with a home travel allowance to use once per year. Seven global employers shared their approaches to providing this benefit. This summary outlines the practices by comparing benefit design and administration, eligibility groups and external vendor partners.

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May 28, 2020

Benefit Design

Here are companies’ different approaches to provide this benefit:

  • Provide an annual allowance incorporated into the annual salary payment based on home and host destinations (e.g., one company has its child allowance set at 75% of the adult allowance);
  • Purchase ticket; and
  • Reimburse employee for ticket costs.

One company calculates destination costs based on travel to the home country’s capital city or major hub according to each employee’s employment contract. Another company provides a prorated allowance if an employee has been with the company less than a year; the allowance is included as part of the employee’s annual payment (i.e., the company payment is one selected month in the calendar year).

Here are employer requirements for travel allowance:

  • Schedule travel at least 14 days in advance of trip and
  • Travel in economy class (employee covers costs beyond economy tier).

Companies review their home travel allowance policy annually.

Groups Eligible for the Benefit

Eligible employee groups are non-nationals of their host country and dependents listed on employees’ visa or under their sponsorship for a given year.

Other criteria that employers mentioned include:

  • Minimum of 3 consecutive months at the company
  • Limit of 5 family members

Administration

The following teams may be responsible for administering the benefit:

  • Benefits Payroll team
  • HR
  • Local HR
  • Global Mobility team
  • Travel desk

The team responsible may be based on the employee status [i.e., U.S. expatriate (global mobility) or third-country nationals (TCNs) ([local HR)].

Vendor Partners

Note: Business Group on Health does not endorse vendors. The following list is for informational purposes only.

Employers mentioned using these vendors, which provide a 12-month average price for travel tickets:

  • BCD
  • Hogg Robinson Group
  • Kanoo

Applicable Countries

Companies offered this benefit in the following countries:

  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.)

For one company in some countries, it only provides this benefit to expatriates only and not to third country nationals.

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