Just like any job or profession, domestic workers have certain rights and obligations. If you are planning to apply for a domestic worker job in Saudi Arabia, it helps to know these specific provisions involved with the job, especially if you will be working for a Saudi employer.
Basically, a domestic worker is one who provides domestic service directly or indirectly to the employer and his/her family members. Household service workers, gardeners, house private drivers, and house security guards are examples of jobs that fall under this category.
Domestic Workers: Their Rights & Obligations
Fortunately, the Saudi Government, through its Ministry of Labor, has an online system that addresses domestic labor concerns — the MUSANED Domestic Labor Program. When it comes to domestic workers’ rights and obligations, this is what the program has to say:
A. Domestic Workers’ Rights
#1 – Rest Days & Off-Hours
Domestic workers may have one day off per week, as agreed upon by both parties in the contract. They shall also be allowed to have daily rest of at least nine hours per day.
#2 – Medical Care & Sick Leaves
In line with the rules and regulations of the Kingdom, medical care shall be provided to the domestic worker. He/she shall also be entitled to a paid sick leave of not more than 30 days per year, as required by the medical report stating his/her need for the sick leave.
#3 – Contract Renewal
Upon completing two years of service, the domestic worker shall be entitled to a one month paid vacation. He/she shall also be up for a contract renewal after the said period.
#4 – End-of-Service Benefits
A domestic worker who was completed four consecutive years of service shall be entitled to an end-of-service award equivalent to a one month pay.
B. Domestic Workers’ Obligations
#1 – Work Agreed Upon
The domestic worker is obligated to follow the orders of his/her employer and family members, provided that these are related to the work agreed upon in the contract.
Notably, the domestic worker is obligated:
- To perform the work agreed upon;
- Not to reject work or quit without a legitimate reason; and
- Not to work for his/her own account.
#2 – Property & Safety of the Employer
The domestic worker is obligated to maintain the property of his/her employer and family members. Similarly, the worker is obligated not to harm the employer and family members, most especially children and the elderly.
#3 – Privacy of the Employer
The domestic worker is obligated:
- To maintain confidential information regarding his/her employer and family members, with respect to their privacy;
- Not to disclose information about the employer and family members to third parties; and
- Not to harm the dignity of the employer and family members, nor interfere with their affairs.
#4 – Religion of the Employer & Saudi Law
The domestic worker is obligated:
- To abide by the laws and regulations enforced in the Kingdom;
- To respect the Islam religion, customs, and traditions of Saudi society; and
- Not to engage in any activity that is damaging or detrimental to his/her employer and family.
C. Violations, Penalties, Complaints & Disputes
In cases of violation of the above-mentioned rights and obligations, the following penalties apply. In addition, the procedure for addressing complaints and disputes are also presented.
Penalty for Violation Done by Employer
An employer who violates any of the above provisions shall be subject to:
- A fine not exceeding SAR 2,000, prevention from recruiting domestic workers for one year, or both;
- A fine between SAR 2,000 and SAR 5,000, prevention from recruiting domestic workers for three years, or both — for a repeat violation;
- Prevention from recruiting domestic workers — for a third violation; and
- Multiplied penalties for multiple violations proven against the employer.
Penalty for Violation Done by Domestic Worker
A domestic worker who violates any of the above provisions shall be subject to:
- A fine not exceeding SAR 2,000, prevention from working in Saudi Arabia, or both; and
- Multiplied penalties for multiple violations proven against the domestic worker.
What’s more, the domestic worker shall bear the cost of his/her repatriation to his/her home country. If his/her financial assets are not enough to pay for the fines, he/she shall be repatriated at the expense of his/her home country.
Complaints & Disputes
When a complaint is filed by the employer, domestic worker, or by both of them, the following steps shall be made:
- The Ministry of Labor shall task a Committee to assess the complaint(s) between the employer and domestic worker.
- The Committee shall inform the claimed party (or parties), and the matter shall be discussed in the presence of both parties or their representatives.
- The Committee shall attempt to settle the dispute amicably within five working days. If an amicable settlement is not possible, the Committee shall make a decision (by unanimous or majority vote) — to be issued in the same session or during a second session within 10 working days.
- Subsequently, the Ministry of Labor shall issue a decision regarding the matter.
- The person against whom a decision is issued may challenge it before the Labor Court within 10 days; otherwise, it shall be considered final.
DISCLAIMER: The above guide is presented for information-sharing purposes only. To know more about the rights and obligations of domestic workers, penalties for violations, and settlement of disputes — please read this brochure on the MUSANED Domestic Labor Program, as posted on the website of the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh.