Saudi To Fine Employers Holding Back Domestic Workers’ Pay

New regulations will come into effect within 60 days to protect the rights of domestic workers in the Kingdom, a labour ministry official said.

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will impose a fine up to SAR5,000 on employers who do not pay their domestic workers on time, local media reported.

This is in line with a new by law that defines the rights and duties of domestic workers and their employers, issued by the ministry of labour on Thursday.

New stipulations will come into effect within 60 days and will help protect the rights of domestic workers in the Kingdom, a labour ministry official said.

The new by law also mandates employers to provide at least nine hours of rest daily and a day off every week unless stated otherwise in a mutually agreed written contract.

Human rights activists in the Kingdom have welcomed this move as it provides clear guidelines on domestic labour.

“There hasn’t been a [clear] national system for labour,” Ibrahim Al-Sheddi, of the Saudi Human Rights Commission was quoted as saying in local media.

“There have been contracts that differ from one recruitment office to another and now all contracts must follow this new system, which is an umbrella for all types of domestic labour.”

Saudi Arabia passed a historic labour law in July last year in a bid to protect the rights of domestic workers, most of whom are from South Asia and Africa.

As per this law, employers can face up to SAR2,000 in fines or a recruitment ban if they are found to be violating the rules. If the offence is repeated, the fine can be increased to SAR5,000 along with a three year recruitment ban.

A worker will be fined SAR2,000 and will be banned from working in the Kingdom if found to be flouting employment regulations mentioned in the by law.

The law also states that the domestic worker will not have the right to leave a job or reject work without a valid reason.

Saudi Arabia has signed deals with major labour exporting countries such as India, Sri Lanka and the Phillippines in a bid to officialise recruitment of domestic labour. The country is also looking to ink similar deals with Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia and Vietnam.

There are around two million workers in Saudi Arabia working as drivers and maids.