Saudi ministry mulls two-day weekend for all private-sector workers
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has said that it is studying the prospects of amending the Labor Law article related to working hours to increase the weekly off to two days for all workers in the private sector.
“The ministry is keen on taking all the measures that serve the interests of the workers and the labor market in a way that contributes to achieving the government’s objectives and the labor market strategy in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” Saad Al-Hammad, spokesman for the ministry, said while reacting to the demand of private sector employees to review the official working hours and applying the weekly off to two days for all sections of workers in the private sector.
Al-Hammad said that the ministry had previously worked on proposed amendments to the Labor Law and had put forward these for feedback through a public opinion poll platform.
Regarding the repeated demands that the Ministry of Human Resources has to take a firm decision on implementing the two-day weekend for private sector employees and reduce working hours so as to attract Saudis to the job market, the spokesman said: “If there are any developments related to the ministry, it will be published via its official website as well as its social media accounts.”
On her part, lawyer and legal consultant Kholoud Al-Ahmadi said that Article 98 of the Labor Law affirmed that it was not permissible for the worker to actually work for more than eight hours per day, if the employer adopts the daily criterion, or more than 48 hours per week, if the weekly criterion is adopted. Actual working hours are reduced during Ramadan, as these do not exceed six hours per day, or 36 hours per week.
Al-Ahmadi noted that Article 99 of the Labor Law clearly showed that the working hours stipulated in Article 98 of the law could be increased to nine hours per day for some categories of workers, or in some industries and jobs in which the worker does not work continuously. It could also be reduced up to seven hours per day for some categories of workers or in some industries and jobs that are dangerous or harmful. The categories of workers, industries and jobs referred to are determined by a decision of the minister of human resources.
Meanwhile, Article 100 of the law permits the employer, with the approval of the ministry, to increase working hours to eight hours per day or 48 hours per week in those establishments where the nature of work requires performing work in rotation, and this is with the condition that the average working hours do not exceed eight hours a day or 48 hours a week.
Al-Ahmadi indicated that Article 101 of the Labor Law has been amended to read as follows: “Working hours and rest periods are regulated during the day, so that the worker does not work for more than five consecutive hours without a period of rest, prayer and food of not less than half an hour at a time during the total working hours, and so that the worker does not remain at the workplace for more than 12 hours per day.”
She pointed out that the Labor Law granted the employer exceptions in giving weekly off during occasions such as the annual inventory work, budget preparation, liquidation of establishment, closing accounts, preparing for discount sale, preparing for seasons, holidays and other occasions and seasonal work, provided that the number of days in which workers are required to work for such occasions does not exceed 30 days per year.
In all cases, the actual working hours may not exceed 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week. The minister shall take a decision with regard to the maximum number of additional working hours allowed per year.