The Council of Ministers has passed a new law that protects the rights of domestic workers as well as their employers.
The law allows them to enjoy nine-hour free time daily, a weekly day-off, one-month paid vacation after every two years and medical leave.
Around two million domestic workers including maids and drivers are employed in the Kingdom.
“The law aims at regulating relationship between domestic help and their employers while explaining their rights and duties and punishment for violators of contract terms,” said Labor Minister Adel Fakeih.
The employer will have the right to place the worker on probation for not more than three months.
“This will give time for employers to understand whether workers can do the job and also observe their character,” Fakeih said.
Under the new law, workers are required to respect the teachings of Islam and the Kingdom’s rules and regulations and carry out their duties perfectly.
They should obey the employer and his family members and protect their property and should not harm children or elderly members. They also should preserve family secrets.
“The worker will not have the right to reject a work or leave the job without any genuine reason,” the law said.
They are not allowed to work for their personal account or engage in any activity damaging to the family.
On the other hand, the employer should not ask the worker to do any work outside the contract or the one harmful to his/her health.
They should pay the salary at the end of every month without delay, provide suitable accommodation and end-of-service benefits after four years.
If the employer violates the contract, he will be fined SR2,000 and banned from recruiting another domestic help for a year.
For second-time violators, the fine will increase to SR5,000. They will also be banned from recruiting for three years.
Third-time violators will face a life-time recruitment ban and a fine of SR10,000.
Workers, who violate their contracts, will be fined SR2,000 and prevented from working in the Kingdom. They will also have to pay for their repatriation costs.
“This is a very important law that would solve many domestic help-related problems we are facing today,” said Dr. Mohammed Badahdah, assistant secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.
“The law has clearly mentioned the duties and rights of both parties. We as Muslims should also follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad on how to deal with such servants,” he told Arab News.
Islam rejects mistreatment of domestic workers, he said.
“Our Prophet has taught us that we should not ask servants to do something beyond their capacity and we should be merciful to them. We should pay them more than what is mentioned in the contract and give them from our Zakat and Sadaqat. If we consider them like a member of family, they will reciprocate by doing their duties in a better way.”