Monday, July 30, 2007

Working hours and leave

An employee working in Saudi Arabia is not supposed to work continuously more than 48 hours a week without a day off. Any hours worked beyond this must be compensated at the rate of 150% of the pay. Generally, Friday is the weekly off (Thursdays and Fridays are the weekly offs for government offices and banks). For people working in shift duty, the weekly off can be on other days, provided that they do not work more than 48 hours a week.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslim employees should not work more than 6 hours a day. Again, where the work deems that they have to work additional hours, Muslim employees have to be compensated with overtime.
A minimum of 4 days at the end of the month of Ramadan and 4 days Hajj holidays are to be given to the employees every year. Also, September 23, which is the Saudi National Day, is a compulsory holiday for both government offices as well as private sector.
As per law, employees are entitled for 21 days vacation after completing the first year of service and 30 days vacation after 5 years of service. However, it is quite common that employees in private sector, particularly in lower levels, to be released on vacation only once in two or three years. Remember that this is a paid vacation, which means that you are supposed to be paid for the duration of the vacation and also the to and fro air tickets to your home country. You have to be careful about this point in the contract, because a few unscrupulous employers may sometimes browbeat the employees into foregoing some of their rights.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Medical insurance in Saudi Arabia

As per Saudi labor law, every employer is supposed to take care of his employees' medical needs. Medical insurance, which is big business in Saudi Arabia, has now become compulsory. I would advise all people looking forward to working in Saudi Arabia to read and re-read their contract for this particular point. Please note that unless it is explicitly mentioned in your contract that you would have to pay partly for your medical expenses, it is the responsibility of your sponsor to foot all your medical and dental bills.
It is a prevalent practice among some hospitals to make the patients pay a minimum amount, usually SR20, for every visit to the hospital. This depends on the type of insurance card. If you are a family of four, and theoretically speaking if all of you visit the hospital once a month, remember that it comes to a substantial amount every year. But this amount also must be reimbursed by your sponsor legally because, as mentioned earlier, if it is not mentioned in writing in your contract, your employer has to bear 100% of your medical and dental bills.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Work permit in Saudi Arabia

An important information which the potential job seeker to Saudi Arabia should know is that your passport will no longer be with you as soon as you land in the country. Your sponsor will be having your pasport. Obviously, you will not be able to go out of the kingdom even on an emergency without your sponsor's knowledge and most important, his approval. Even if you happen to get the passport in your hands, without an exit/re-entry visa stamped on your passport, it is impossible to go out of the country, even though you have a valid plane ticket with you! And the only way to get it stamped is with your sponsor's approval.
You will be initially given a photocopy of your passport with your sponsor's signature and seal and within 3 months, you will be given a small booklet called "Iqama" which you must carry with you all the time. The iqama is nothing but a residence permit, which contains information such as your sponsor's name, your profession, your date of birth and dates of birth of your family members. Recently, this iqama has been replaced with an electronic so-called smart card, but the booklet is still widely in use. The iqama is green in color for Muslims and in red color for non-Muslims. Make sure you do not lose it and also ensure that you carry it with you whenever you go out, because this is the most important document which is going to prove that you are a legal resident in the kingdom.
It is the responsibility of your sponsor to bear the cost of the iqama as well as its renewal. More on this and much more in future posts. Do let me know your comments, which is my inspiration to write in this blog.