Over half (57%) of UAE employees will not survive financially for three months in event of a critical illness after having to leave a job and a quarter would not even last a month, according to a survey commissioned and released by Friends Provident International today (3 June).

The Financial Survival survey received responses from over 1,000 UAE employees from across gender, age, income, nationality, Emirate, and relationship status segments.

While women were marginally more confident than men that they could survive financially for three months in the event of becoming seriously ill and losing their jobs, only 12% of men and 14% of women believed they could survive a full 12 months.

Stuart Shilcock, head of sales, Middle East at Friends Provident International, said the survey "shines a light on the average UAE employees' unpreparedness for critical illness - especially the impact that debilitating illness can have on earnings and financial survival" adding that "all employees in the UAE are woefully unprepared to survive financially if they can't work".

FPI further highlighted that employees are more likely to be diagnosed with a critical illness than die during their working life citing a non-smoking man aged 40 is over four times more likely to be diagnosed with a critical illness than he is to die before the age of 65 (Source: Pacific Life Re March 2018).

Older employees, in the 45+ age group, "whom one would expect to be better financially prepared or at least have more savings, were less confident of surviving the first six months than younger employees", said Shilcock.

Yet 17% of of this group believed they could survive up to 12 months indicating "a slightly higher level of financial preparedness amongst a nonetheless still very small segment of older employees".

Over two thirds of Emirati, Arab expat and Asian workers did not believe they could survive financially for three months if they fell ill and lost their jobs.

Western employees were even less confident of surviving financially "with a full 71% believing that they could not last three months if they became ill and couldn't work," said Shilcock.

FPI said these numbers were particularly worrying given that expats in the UAE do not have the same statutory benefits that exist in many of their home countries. In Dubai, for example, there is very little statutory sick pay and no free schooling.

Across other demographics, single people were more confident that they could survive financially for three months compared with either married employees, or employees married with children.

Though more confident than other groups, since a full 66% of single people believed that they could not survive for three months financially if they fell ill and lost their jobs shows "the high level of financial unpreparedness even amongst single people with few dependents," said Shilcock, adding "critical illness cover is the responsible thing to do if you live and work in the UAE, especially in these very uncertain times".