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Saudi Arabia has signed a labour pact with Sri Lanka, which will regulate the hiring of domestic workers and protect their rights when working in the Kingdom, state news agency WAM reported.
Saudi Arabia’s labour minister Adel Mohammed Fakih and Sri Lankan minister of foreign employment, promotion and welfare, Dilan Perera, signed the deal on Monday, January 13.
The treaty covers 12 categories of domestic workers employed in the Kingdom including housemaids, drivers, cleaners and waiters.
According to the agreement, Sri Lankan workers will not be required to surrender their passports to their sponsors and will hold the right to retain their travel documents at all times.
Workers’ salaries will also be remitted to their bank accounts unlike the long-standing tradition of payment by cash, the local daily Arab News reported.
The labour pact requires the employer to terminate a worker’s contract after two years if they wish to leave their employment.
The agreement stipulates that the labour contract drawn for recruits should be in a language understood by the worker and they should be made aware of their rights when being employed in the Kingdom.
Earlier last year, both countries were in disagreement after Saudi Arabia beheaded a 17-year old Sri Lankan domestic maid Rizana Nafeek on the charges of smothering a child to death under her care.
The case was widely condemned by human rights groups, following which both countries recalled their envoys. The incident also highlighted the plight of expat domestic workers in the Middle East and the limited scope of rights they have in the region.
Saudi Arabia has signed similar labour treaties, protecting domestic workers’ rights, with India and the Philippines recently. The Kingdom is also in talks to sign pacts with other major labour exporting countries such as Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia.