Human Rights Watch hails amended Saudi labour law

The package of 38 amendments penalise employers for failure to pay salaries in time, passport confiscation, and lack of contract-copy provision to migrant workers

Human Rights Watch has praised Saudi's amendments to its labour law. [Representational image]
Human Rights Watch has praised Saudi's amendments to its labour law. [Representational image]

Human Rights Watch has applauded reforms to Saudi Arabia's labour law. 

A package of 38 amendments came into effect on 18 October, 2015, as a part of which the Kingdom's Labour Ministry has introduced and raised fines for employers which violate its regulations. 

These include " prohibitions on confiscating migrant workers’ passports, failing to pay salaries on time, and failing to provide copies of contracts to employees", according to Human Rights Watch. 

Sarah Leah Whitson, the organisation's director for Middle East, said: “Saudi Arabia’s labour reforms will help protect migrant workers if the government follows through and enforces them."

Whitson goes on to call for greater reforms in the domestic worker segment as well.

Saudi's new or increased fines penalise a number of abusive practices followed by employers, such ass the Kafala system, creating the potential to increase worker protections, particularly for migrant workers, Human Rights Watch said.

The Labour Law amendments, approved by the Council of Ministers in March, include provisions increasing paid leave and the compensation period for job-related injuries, and they require employers to provide a day a week with full pay to employees to seek other employment if they terminate workers’ contracts.

The new or increased penalties include fines of $533 (SAR2,000) for withholding employees’ passports; $800 (SAR3,000) for not paying salaries on time, and $1,333 (SAR5,000) for withholding an employee’s salary without a judicial order. 

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