Defined Contribution Plan

What is a Defined Contribution Plan?

A defined contribution plan is a retirement savings plan in which both employees and employers can make contributions. The ultimate benefit received by the employee is based on the total contributions made and the performance of the investments within the plan.

Unlike defined benefit plans, the employer does not promise a specific benefit at retirement. In a defined contribution plan, an employee and employer may both contribute a percentage of the employee's salary to the retirement account.

Defined contribution plans are commonly used in the UAE and Saudi Arabia as they offer flexibility and align with the more dynamic nature of employment in the region. Employers often provide retirement savings options that allow employees to manage their own contributions and investments.

How does a Defined Contribution Plan work?

A defined contribution plan allows both employees and employers to make regular contributions to the employee's retirement account. The eventual retirement benefit is determined by the total contributions made, as well as the returns generated by the investments chosen within the plan.

What Happens to a Defined Contribution Plan if I Change Jobs?

When changing jobs, individuals can typically choose to leave their contributions in the existing plan, roll them over into a new employer's plan, or transfer them to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) to continue growing tax-deferred.

Read more: What to do after being laid off? 

Advantages of a Defined Contribution Plan for Employees:

Employees benefit from the flexibility and portability of defined contribution plans. They have control over their investment choices and can take their retirement savings with them if they change jobs.

Advantages of a Defined Contribution Plan for Employers:

For employers, defined contribution plans are typically less complex and costly to administer compared to defined benefit plans. They also offer flexibility in the level of contributions, allowing employers to adjust based on budgetary considerations.

Can I Contribute to Both a Defined Contribution Plan and an IRA?

Yes, individuals can contribute to both a defined contribution plan through their employer and an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) on their own. However, there may be limits on the deductibility of contributions to a traditional IRA depending on income levels and participation in employer-sponsored plans. Small businesses, governmental entities and nonprofit organizations use  defined contribution plans most frequently.


Defined contribution plans offer a flexible and portable approach to retirement savings for both employees and employers. They empower individuals to take control of their retirement investments, and are a popular choice in dynamic employment markets like the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Employers can tailor these plans to suit their budgetary considerations while still offering valuable retirement benefits to their employees.

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