Sunday, April 12, 2015

Changes to labor rules

In the midst of the din around other news, the most important one affecting expatriates working in Saudi Arabia got almost drowned. The announcement about changes to labor regulations brings mixed feelings. Here are the highlights of what is in store for you:

One of the most misused labor rules in the kingdom is the one pertaining to vacation by the employees. Except for large companies, most of the smaller contracting firms do not pay during one's vacation or if it is paid, they give only the basic salary without allowances. This blatant violation was due to the simple fact that the existing labor law, which came into effect in 2006, is vague on several issues, something so very well exploited by these companies. 

Until now, transportation allowance was kept out of the vacation salary going by the 'logic' that you do not need it since you are anyway in your home country. Little do people realize that whatever be the breakup of various elements in a person's salary, what eventually matters to the employee is the net pay which he takes home each month. As per the new amendment, transportation allowance will now be part of the vacation salary. In fact, the law has now been amended such that an employee can approach the labor court if this is not honored. Way to go!

Among the other amendments brought about, special leave given to an employee when his wife delivers has been extended from one day to three days. Of course, this is applicable only when the wife delivers within the kingdom. In case of death of an employee's spouse, he/she is entitled for five days leave instead of the existing three days. 

Another important change in the rules pertains to marriage leave. As per the existing regulations, an employee is entitled for just three days in case of his marriage. This has now been extended to five days. The best part is that these are all working days. Combine this with the weekend on either side and you get nine days.

But the most remarkable one pertains to maternity leave by working women, a big blessing for all those female teachers, doctors and nurses. Until now, maternity leave was strictly bound by the days just before and after the delivery without giving any kind of flexibility. As per the new rules, it is totally up to the expectant mother to space out her paid maternity leave, the only restriction being that it should start from one month from the expected date of delivery. In case she runs out of her paid maternity leave, she is now entitled for a month's additional leave without pay. Of course, she can even stretch beyond this with the consent of her employer, but this is the bare minimum guaranteed by the newly amended law. The new law also says that spacing out of maternity leave by a female employee will not affect her annual leave in any way, which means that she can even combine her annual leave with her maternity leave. 

In case an employee meets with a work-related accident and suffers an injury, the duration of financial assistance has now been doubled from thirty to sixty days. In fact, this should have been at least six months, but at least a beginning has been made.

Several other minor changes have been brought about, but most of them are applicable more for Saudis rather than expatriates.

All these changes will come into effect 6 months after publication in the gazette.

It is a long pending demand that the labor law, last brought about 9 years back, needs drastic improvements. Recently, one of the readers complained about how he was summarily sacked by his employer on some flimsy reason, just two days after his probation period ended. The worst part was that the employer pre-dated the termination letter to avoid paying him the notice period and when the employee protested, he got two other employees as witnesses saying that the termination letter was not accepted by the employee. Such cases break my heart because they are now becoming the norm rather than exceptions. 

If the kingdom needs to retain quality expat manpower, it needs to urgently revamp its outdated labor laws. A beginning has now been made but much is still needed to be achieved rather than small cosmetic changes.


കുന്നെക്കാടന്‍ said...

thanks for these good points.
i have one question,
am working in a company last 5 years, with same salary. there is no increment on it. whenever i ask about increment they told will get soon, but not yet increased.
so i wish to ask release of my sponsorship. is there any right for this request ?
i change my sponsorship to this company before 3 years.

Thans in Advance.

Shaiku said...

Thank You for the update expat guru, Appreciated as always...

Daleeli KSA said...

Thanks for the useful post. It is very useful to read who are all working in Saudi Arabia.