Saudi Arabia has announced that amendments made to its labour law will be enforced from October 8, local daily Arab News reported.
Under the new rules, the total number of hours a private sector employee can be required to work has now increased from 11 to 12 per day.
However, employers have been strictly prohibited from making staff work longer than 12 hours. They are also required to provide a break of 30 minutes every five hours to pray, eat and rest.
Employers with 50 or more staff are also required to provide annual training to Saudi employees constituting at least 12 per cent of the total workforce. That includes those who are studying and where the employer is paying their study fees.
The labour ministry has also stated the probationary period can be increased from the current 90 days to 180 days, subject to the employee’s consent.
Under the new rules, an employer also cannot transfer an employee to another location if this requires them to move house, without obtaining the employee’s prior written consent.
The labour ministry has also stated that any worker who works on a daily basis should collect his wages once a week. Freelancers working for at least two weeks should get part of their wages at the beginning of the work week and the remaining money when the work is completed.
Wages will also be required to be paid into employee’s bank accounts via approved banks.
The amendments also state that a female Muslim employee will now have increased paid compassionate if her spouse dies – from 15 days to four months and 10 days.
The amendments, first published in April 2015, are aimed at encouraging the employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector, law firm DLA Piper said in a recent report.
The kingdom has been struggling to increase private sector employment in the country with jobless rate standing at between 11- 12 per cent.
It has also introduced measured measures such as the Nitaqat system, which makes it mandatory for private sector companies to hire a minimum percentage of Saudi nationals.