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Saudi Arabia considers major changes to Labour Law: Reports

Riyadh - The country plans to criminalise brokerage in the employment of Saudis and recruiting of foreigners with imposing a fine up to SR500,000.

By Web Report

Published: Tue 12 Jan 2021, 9:36 AM

Last updated: Tue 12 Jan 2021, 10:23 AM

Saudi Arabia is considering major amendments in its labour laws, giving more benefits to the employees, according to local media reports.

A report on Saudi Gazette quoted ‘informed sources’, saying the country plans to criminalise brokerage in the employment of Saudis and recruiting of foreigners with imposing a hefty fine ranging between SR200,000 (approximately Dh195,783) and SR500,000 (approximately Dh489,459).

The proposed amendments also include 14-week maternity leave with full pay for working women instead of the existing 10-week leave, and meeting the expense of the exit and re-entry visa fee by the worker instead of the employer.

The amendments in the Labour Law will be introduced by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development in the near future, the report added.

The amendments will make the existing rules and regulations more effective and employment-friendly so as to achieve a qualitative improvement in the market situations, especially in the productive and service sectors.

The ministry has been and is still in consultations and deliberations with specialists and experts on the proposed amendments that cover 29 legal articles of the Labour Law, besides adding a new article to the law for the first time.

The amended versions of the law added new texts, including article 231, which stipulates the criminalisation of brokerage in the employment of Saudis by imposing a fine of no less than SR200,000 and no more than SR500,000 on anyone who violates the provisions of article 30 of the Labour Law.

The article does not allow any person to practise the activity of employing Saudis or the activity of recruiting foreign workers unless it is licensed.

The proposed amendments also stipulate that the ministry will inspect private firms and impose penalties in the event of detection of any violations, contrary to the previous procedure which is to investigate violations by its inspectors and then refer them to the Ministry of Interior to take punitive measures.

According to the amendments, the employer shall bear the fees for the recruitment of an expat worker, as well as the fee for his residency permit (iqama), the work permit and their renewal, and any other fees approved by the state. The ticket for the worker’s return to his home country after the end of the contract will also be paid by the employer.

The amendments also stipulate that the employer no longer needs to pay the exit and reentry visa fee and it shall be met by the employee.

The amended article 61 clarifies that the employer is prohibited from doing anything that would exclude, separate, discriminate or give preference to some of his workers on the basis of race, colour, sex, age, disability, marital status, or any the other forms.

It is also forbidden to withhold the worker’s wages or part of it without a judicial verdict. The employer needs to treat his workers with decency and respect, and should refrain from every word or act that offends their dignity and religion.

It also stressed that the employer shall provide suitable housing for his workers and appropriate means of transportation from their place of residence to the place of work.

The amendment permits both the worker and the employer to terminate the contract between them, if the contract is for an indefinite period and the wage is paid monthly, without the need to give him a period of 60 days.

The amendments also emphasize the right of the worker whose services were terminated for an unlawful reason to be compensated by one month of wage for each year of the worker’s service if the contract was for an unlimited period in addition to the remaining period of the contract if it was for a fixed period.

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

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