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Saudi Arabia introduces new employment laws

Private sector employees in Saudi Arabia will now be banned from working for more than 12 hours a day, according to local news reports.07 Oct 2015

An employee must also be given a 30 minute break every five hours, under the new employment rules that come into force this week, Arab News said.

Daily workers should be paid once a week, under the new rules, while those who work on a freelance basis for a minimum of two weeks should be paid part of their wages at the beginning of the work week, and the rest when the work is complete, Arab News said.

A worker is entitled to five days leave on full pay if his wife, ascendant or descendant dies, or if he gets married. An employer is entitled to ask for documentation to prove these events, Arab News said.

According to Gulf Business, a female Muslim employee will now have more paid compassionate leave if her spouse dies. The leave period has increased from 15 days to four months and 10 days.

An employer cannot transfer an employee to another location if this requires them to move house, unless the employee gives written consent, Arab News said.

An employer with more than 50 workers must offer training courses to at least 12% of the workforce, Arab News said.

The training should be provided to Saudi nationals who complete their studies abroad. The training requirements under the new labour laws are intended to form part of the wider 'Saudisation' programme, a national policy within Saudi Arabia that requires businesses to employ minimum numbers of Saudi nationals within their workforce. The number of Saudi nationals required to satisfy the Saudization requirements depends on the industry and size of the organisation. An employer who contravenes the Saudization rules may have its business operations frozen and its licence removed by the Ministry of Labour, Arab News said. 

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) labour law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The introduction of the new Saudi labour Laws reflects the growing trend within the GCC of national authorities seeking to update their labour laws to provide more protection to employees around key issues such as working hours and regular salary payment. Nationalisation of the private sector workforce is a high priority within all of the GCC countries and is certainly a hot topic within Saudi. It is a progressive step for the authorities to target the training of Saudi nationals as part of the wider nationalisation programme."  

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