The Shoura Council has endorsed a proposal to reduce the weekly working hours for employees in the private sector from 45 to 40 with a two-day weekend.
The Shoura members, who met on Monday, adopted a number of amendments to the Labor Law and agreed to reduce total weekly working hours from 45 to 40. They also agreed to make the working contract unlimited if it is renewed three times and if the total employment period had touched four years.
The Shoura insisted that an employee should not be asked to work for more than five hours continuously without rest and should be given a half-hour break for food and prayer. It also warned companies against asking their employees to work more than 40 hours weekly and eight hours daily.
The two-day weekend decision will have to be approved by the Council of Ministers to become law.
Saudis and expatriates alike have welcomed the decision, saying it would increase their productivity.
“It’s a gamechanger. This move shows Shoura’s farsightedness as the two-day weekend would attract Saudis to the private sector,” said S. Tauqueer, an IT manager from India working for a French multinational in Riyadh.
“This is one of the biggest favors given by the Labor Ministry to the private sector. It will not only boost productivity of workers but also encourage more Saudis to join private firms,” said Abdul Shukoor Ali, a senior executive. “It will contribute to bringing down the stress levels of workers,” he added.
The newly amended Labor Law gives nine reasons for a company to nullify the contract without informing the worker or giving him or her compensation. However, the worker should be given a chance to appeal that decision.
The nine reasons include attacking the company owner or top executive or colleague during work or if the worker is absent for more than 30 days without a genuine reason during the one-year contract or 15 days continuously. Before firing the worker, he or she shall be given a written notice after 20 days in the first case and after 10 days in the second case.