Saudi domestic worker market gets regulated

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A worker at a construction site in the Middle East. Saudi government sources reveal that a team of recruitment companies will propose ways to formalise the domestic worker recruitment market. (photo used for illustrative purposes only)

Saudi government sources reveal that the Ministry of Labor has formed a team of recruitment companies to propose ways to formalise the domestic worker recruitment market.

The team has been tasked to devise a mechanism for negotiations for domestic workers and promote the role of recruitment companies in their hiring. The team will closely work with the Ministry of Labor to outline details of the negotiation process, and official channels in other countries to understand special contracts for domestic recruitment. By gaining better insights into global practices, the team will help recruitment companies understand the local labor market and to write more suitable agreements.

Saudi domestic worker market

The Saudi domestic labour market is mainly based on workers from Indonesia, the Philippines and other South Asian countries. While the country has shown its readiness to open up new markets for labour recruitment, the idea has not yet won wide acceptance. The government expects to achieve a breakthrough in its negotiations with Indonesia and the Philippines over the obstacles facing importation of domestic workers. Till then, the authorities are focusing on other Asian markets like Nepal to meet the labour requirements.

Often criticised for poor treatment of foreign domestic workers, Saudi Arabia recently passed landmark legislation to ensure the protection of their rights. In the absence of labour market regulations, Sri Lanka had banned some of it’s (domestic labour pool) citizens from traveling to Saudi Arabia, in an attempt to protest the abuse and murder of Sri Lankan maids in the kingdom.

The new law, which has already been approved by the Council of Ministers, sets nine hours of free time for each worker per day, while also allowing them one day leave from work, per week. Further, domestic workers will also be entitled to a one month paid vacation every two years and medical leaves.

Under the new law, domestic servants will have a probationary period of three months. The workers will be entitled to receive their salary at month end without delay, and receive accommodation and end-of-service benefits after four years.

Photo: BASF/Flickr

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