Riyadh Chamber of Commerce opposes Saudi 40-hour week

Published:  27 Dec at 6 PM
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The Saudi government’s plan to impose 5-day, 40 hour working weeks on all Saudi private companies is causing controversy amongst members of the kingdom’s Chamber of Commerce.

Head of the Chamber’s manpower committee Mansour Al-Shatri is fiercely in opposition to the proposal, saying it will reduce opportunities for Saudi workers and increase the attraction of the kingdom as an expats workers' haven. Speaking with the Al-sharq Arabic daily, he said that reducing expat workers’ hours would result in a 30 per cent compensation increase in their salaries.

He added that the plan would work against the Saudi government’s efforts towards the Saudization of jobs in the kingdom and further increase the cost of living of the average Saudi national. The plan followed on the recently-announced and highly controversial rise in the annual expat levy from SR100 to SR 2,400.

Al Shatri is also less than pleased about the decision as he believes its implementation will affect businesses negatively. He told reporters that Saudi private companies had already agreed to prioritise the employment of Saudi nationals over that of expats on the condition that the 90 per cent of manpower in the kingdom provided by expats was not covered.

The new system, he added, will severely affect contractors tied to completion dates as well as businesses in the commercial, health, industrial and educational sectors. Added to this, he continued, the new law disallows expat workers form being transferred without getting their written permission and allows them 40 days off during the contractual year.

Al Shatri also has serous concerns over the new law’s proposal that expats informing the authorities about violations within the company should receive a SR 25,000 rewards. This, he says, will encourage false accusations which will seriously affect business in the kingdom.
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