While it is true that employers should treat their workers fairly, it is also the responsibility of employees to know their rights. This applies to jobs in Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else, for that matter. By being aware of your rights, you would not be so easily abused or exploited.
Indeed, being an overseas worker goes beyond having a working visa and simply reporting for the job everyday. It also involves knowing your rights, and asserting these when necessary. In today’s article, we provide an overview of workers’ rights, based on the Saudi Labor Law.
Overview of Workers’ Rights in Saudi Arabia
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is the main agency that administers workers’ policies in the Kingdom. These include rules for residence permits, recruitment expenses, working hours, and other concerns that every employer and employee should know.
- In Saudi Arabia, the residence permit is called “Iqama,” which you must keep with you at all times.
- You have the right to ask for Iqama from your employer, who is responsible for shouldering all expenses related to this.
- If your employer does not provide you Iqama within 3 months of your arrival to the Kingdom, you can look for another job and transfer your sponsorship without the employer’s permission.
- The employer is responsible for shouldering all expenses recruitment-related expenses. These include issuance and renewal of Iqama, work license, and exit re-entry visa fees.
- If your employer asks you to pay for these expenses, you can bring him to court and file a case.
- The probation period should not exceed 3 months. If your employer asks to extend your probation period, do not accept his offer as this is against the law.
- By the end of your probation period, you have the right to ask for a proper contract. If is is written in Arabic, ask for it to be translated to English.
- The maximum number of working hours in Saudi Arabia is 48 hours / week. If the employer asks you to work beyond this limit, you can ask for overtime pay, which is 1.5 times the regular rate.
- Your employer is not allowed to assign additional work beyond what you have initially agreed upon. If additional work is truly necessary, it should not exceed 30 days / year.
- The employer cannot change the schedule of payment (i.e. hourly, daily, weekly, monthly) without your written consent.
- The employer is not allowed to transfer you to another location without your written consent.
- If you want to resign or terminate your contract, you need to give proper notice. This applies to employers as well.
- By the end of your employment term, you are entitled to receive end-of-service benefits.
- You have the right to keep your passport with you at all times.
- In case of death or permanent disability in the work site, you are entitled to certain benefits under the Saudi Labor Law.
DISCLAIMER: The details presented above are for information-sharing purposes only. To learn more about your rights as a worker in Saudi Arabia, please visit the official website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.