HR Manager

Heriot Watt University - Dubai

DubaiCovering all University Campuses internationally, the HR Directorate provides a range of strategic and operational HR Support and Guidance to the Leaders, managers and employees of the University. The services cover the full employee cycle from the point of attracting staff as potential employees, through their recruitment and induction, career development and reward and recognition. There are HR colleagues based in Edinburgh, Dubai and Malaysia organised around five Divisions, Recruitment, Organisational and Professional Development, Reward and Wellbeing, Employee Relations and Policy and Operations.
The HR Manager role in Dubai provides a strategic and comprehensive operational HR service to the senior managers and staff in the location working closely with the UK-Based HR Partners (aligned to our Schools and Professional Services Internationally) and the Division Heads for the HR specialisms in the UK. They will also be responsible for managing a small team of HR staff in Dubai delivering recruitment and HR administrative processes in line with organisational and local employment practices.
You will report to the COO in Dubai with a functional reporting line to the Global Director of HR in Edinburgh and take responsibility for all aspects of HR provision and delivery, including employment and immigration law and practice, statutory and contractual obligations, policy and procedure development, adapting (in collaboration with HWU Edinburgh) and implementing policies and processes to fit the business needs of Heriot-Watt Dubai.

The role will also be responsible for advising on employee relations and advising managers in dealing with performance, discipline or grievance or other similar issues.


This is an ideal role for an experienced HR Generalist looking to develop their career by taking a lead regional role as part of an international HR function. You will have a strong track record in operational HR, policy development and delivering practical, measured advice to managers. Project management skills will also be an advantage and you will have experience with Dubai Labour Law and TECOM and in working with and employing International staff. An understanding of European employment practices would be an advantage but prior experience in Higher Education is not required. You will be able to operate independently and confidently represent the function in Dubai whilst working collaboratively with HR colleagues in the UK and Malaysia and other Professional Service providers in our Dubai campus.

Key duties and responsibilities

HR Management and Operational activity

  • Ensure the University is compliant with all Labour laws and legislation in regard to staffing and staffing issues. This includes responsibility for ensuring processes, contracts, visas and staffing sponsorships are all appropriately set and implemented.
  • Keep up to date with any changes or amendments to the prevailing laws / rules / regulations, changes in forms / formats and other procedures and keep the University’s Human Resources Department informed of such changes and liaising with colleagues to ensure Policies are reviewed and updated accordingly. Create or adapt policies and processes to meet HWUD’s business needs and to fit employment law and practice in Dubai, with support from the Edinburgh HR team. Ensure the Staff Handbook is updated regularly and staff are made aware of any changes.
  • Work with senior managers and the HR Reward and Wellbeing team to develop and maintain the Pay and Reward structures for the Dubai Campus ensuring these are robust and fairly applied in line with local market practices in Dubai.
  • Act as main PRO or advise other colleagues in liaising with Government and Semi Government authorities.
  • Work with the Senior Management Team in Dubai and senior HR colleagues in the UK to develop and deliver a people strategy for the Campus covering all elements of the employee lifecycle.
  • Work with managers to contribute to the annual planning round contributing to business cases for investment and changes when required, providing advice on organisational and job design and workforce planning.
  • Recruitment and Selection – liaise with managers where appropriate regarding new posts, advising on job requirements. Manage the end to end recruitment process working closely with hiring managers and ensure all internal processes and approvals are followed. Manage the process for arranging appropriate visas/employment passes and teaching permits with relevant authorities when required; add employees to medical cover; arrange induction programme for new employees, including visits to overseas campuses. (Arrangements for 1st month).
  • Be responsible for maintaining employee records. Liaise with the HR Services team and Payroll colleagues in the UK on payroll queries in conjunction with the Head of Finance.
  • Manage the process for administering resignations/retirement process, including calculating final entitlements, writing to employees, informing payroll and medical insurers and other appropriate parties.
  • Be the local point of expert contact for managers to advise and administer staff employee wellbeing processes, such as maternity leave, and returns to work following absence.
  • Be the local point of expert contact for complex employee, development and change management issues, managing and resolving individual cases and issues working closely with the wider HR team.
  • Be the local point of contact for employees on HR and payroll related issues
  • Inform and advise managers and staff on annual performance reviews to ensure effective implementation working with the HR Partners to ensure University processes such as PDR, Succession Planning, Progression and Reward are followed in a timely and positive way aligned with the University values.
  • Liaise with the wider HR team to ensure that a parallel culture is created and a service is offered, to include supporting the Campus to liv the University values, enabling people to be the best they can, and providing a fair, friendly and timely service.
  • Line manage a small HR team in Dubai ensuring colleagues objectives are aligned with the University Strategy and HR Operational Plans and that day to day activities are prioritised appropriately and delivered to the highest possible standards.

People planning

  • Develop workforce and succession plans in partnership with HR Partners and the Organisational and Professional Development team

Training, Leadership and Development

  • Coach and influence managers so that they have a prime focus on developing management and leadership skills, pointing out the opportunities available, and work closely with the management team to agree development needs within their own area. Taking these needs, liaise with the Organisational and Professional Development team and the Academic Development areas to deliver development in a timely basis.
  • Support Team Development for leadership teams, delivering interventions that might include team building, strategy development, action planning, people development workshops etc.
  • Identify the talent pipeline for development activities working with the Organisational & Professional Development Team, design, develop and deliver briefings or training events to provide tools, techniques and support to management teams dealing with people issues.
  • Design and deliver training on specific HR related matters.

Please note that this job description is not exhaustive, and the role holder may be required to undertake other relevant duties commensurate with the grading of the post and its general responsibilities. Activities may be subject to amendment over time as the role develops and/or priorities and requirements evolve.

Education, qualifications and experience Education, Qualifications & Experience: These are the criteria on which the short-listing and recruitment selection will be made
Essential 1. Educated to first degree level or equivalent or equivalent practical experience in the workplace 2. Professional Qualification and significant experience in HR Management 3. Experience of working within a similar environment as outlined above 4. Detailed understanding of labour law and employment practices in Dubai and ability to develop and adapt employment policies to ensure compliance and best practice 5. Ability to persuade, motivate and lead a team, including setting objectives and managing workload 6. Competent in the use of relevant IT packages 7. Demonstrable substantial professional expertise across all areas of HR 8. Well-developed understanding of relevant legal, statutory and governance applications and turning them into good practice (specifics, e.g. H&S, employment law, statutory requirements, etc.) 9. Excellent interpersonal, influencing and presentation skills, able to understand and communicate complex issues effectively 10. Demonstrable excellent customer service 11. Demonstrable ability to work quickly, flexibly and accurately in a dynamic, changing and pressured environment 12. Experience of working closely with stakeholders across all levels of the organisation 13. Ability to research, analyse and present complex information effectively with good attention to detail 14. High level planning and organisational skills with the ability to prioritise major developments and to function effectively in a pressured environment 15. Demonstrable professional and proactive approach 16. Ability to work effectively both independently and as part of a team in a complex matrix organisation
Desirable 1. Professional Qualification or membership of Professional body (CIPD or equivalent) 2. Experience of working in Higher Education or similar public sector organisation 3. Ability to manage budgets 4. Specific systems, legislative, procedural, technical knowledge/experience 5. Experience in using social media
Special Factors (relevant to specific role)
  • Requirement to work at weekends or out of hours
  • Requirement to travel nationally/internationally (on average one or twice a year))
How To Apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 31st August 2019.

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

The appointment is conditional upon successful completion of all Labour and Immigration formalities, and the start date will need to be delayed if the employment visa is not in place.
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