Saudi Arabia has passed an historic new law protecting the rights of domestic workers in the Kingdom, as well as their employers.
The Council of Ministers approved the new rights which will allow every worker nine hours of free time a day, one day off a week and one-month paid vacation every two years.
There are around two million workers in Saudi Arabia filling domestic positions such as maids and drivers.
The new law, which has been thrashed out over years of dispute between the Kingdom and labour exporting countries – namely from South Asia and Africa – also includes medical leave while probationary periods will last three months.
“The law aims at regulating relationship between domestic help and their employers while explaining their rights and duties and punishment for violators of contract terms,” said Labor Minister Adel Fakeih, Arab News reported.
The new law states workers must respect the teachings of Islam and the Kingdom’s rules and regulations and carry out their duties ‘perfectly’.
Workers will also be expected to ‘obey the employer and his family members and protect their property and should not harm children or elderly members.’ They are also expected to preserve family secrets.
The legislation also states “the worker will not have the right to reject a work or leave the job without any genuine reason.”
In reverse, the law forbids employers from asking a worker to do any job outside of their contract or which may be harmful to their health.
An employer can be fined 2,000 riyals and banned from recruiting futher domestic help for a year if they are found in breach of their contract.
Further incriminations by the employer result in increased fines with a third violation costing 10,000 riyals and a lifetime ban on recruiting domestic help.
Employers are also required to pay the worker’s salary at the end of every month without delay, provide accommodation and end-of-service benefits after four years.
Workers violating their contracts will be fined 2,000 riyals and banned from working in the country. They will also have to pay for their own repatriation costs.
“This is a very important law that would solve many domestic help-related problems we are facing today,” said Dr. Mohammed Badahdah, assistant secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, speaking to Arab News.
“The law has clearly mentioned the duties and rights of both parties. We as Muslims should also follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad on how to deal with such servants.”