Five-day week debate continues in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Ministry of Labour terms contractor’s stance as ‘unreasonable’

Contracting companies have rejected Saudi Arabia’s plans for a 5 day week.

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Contracting companies in Saudi Arabia have turned down suggestions to implement a two day weekend for employees, despite most of the Kingdom’s companies implementing the ruling.

The contractors turned down the suggestion citing project delays as a possible consequence of the two day break, Arab News has reported.

The Kingdom’s Labor Ministry has termed the contractors’ reasoning as “unacceptable”, claiming the two-day weekend could instead contribute to increasing productivity, and many entrepreneurs have reportedly echoed this opinion.

Contracting companies fear losing their Saudi workers should they choose to not comply with the idea, thus endangering their less-than-10%-local workforce numbers.

The country’s wage protection program encourages Saudis to work in the heavily foreign-dominated private sector. The Labor Ministry is waiting on the consultative Shoura Council’s decision on the two-day weekend in the private sector.

The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the Ministry’s wage protection and Nitaqat programmes are at variance with the country’s Labor law and other regulations, but the Ministry rebutted the accusation as “baseless”, the report added. The RCCI also opposed the Ministry’s decision to increase the SR2,400 expat levy  – one charged on every foreigner employed in a firm in excess of Saudi workers.

The Human Resource Development Fund, an affiliate of the Ministry had three months ago agreed to increase the government’s contribution for the employment of Saudis in a private firm from the current SR3,000 by an additional SR1,000 per month, especially for those working in green and platinum categories.

These companies will receive SR4,000 in the first year with amounts decreasing by SR1,000 each over the next two years for every newly employed local. The Ministry estimates around 10% of the country’s private firms are in the platinum category, and 40% in the green.

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