Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Saudi Labor Ministry announced new laws and regulations concerning foreign household labor. The new rules have been stated to offer better guarantees for financial and psychological rights of the workers. The laws will be implemented at the beginning of the next Islamic month, Zhu Al Qa”dah.
The new laws permit a family to hire a foreign maid only if the family has at least one child, or if the mother works or studies. They permit the hiring of a driver only if the wife or a child works or studies, or if the family has children who go to school daily. The families who want to hire another maid will either have more than one child, or the father more than one wife, or prove that any of the grandparents who reside in the same household need care. Those who want another driver will be obliged to prove that the existence of a second wife or more, than one working daughter. In all of the above cases, the family has to be financially able to afford the salary and the living expenses of household workers before employing helpers.
The ministry also agreed to permit any Saudi who himself suffers or one of his dependents suffer from illnesses, old age, or disabilities, to hire a foreign worker in the household. However, he should present a medical report that proves the need for help, and should be able to afford financially the expenses for such assistance.
The ministry also defined a minimum level of income for the hiring of foreign workers in the household. The father of a household that requires the assistance of a single helper should earn no less than 3500 Saudi Riyals per month. To hire a second worker, he should earn no less than 8000 Saudi Riyals and for a third worker, no less than 12,000 Saudi Riyals. For the assistance of four workers, the wage earner should earn at least 20,000 Saudi Riyals per month. For those who do not work for the government or in the private sector and does not have an official business record of a private business should first present a bank statement that shows the equivalent level of income for the four cases mentioned above.
Ahmad Al Zamel, Deputy of the Labor Ministry for Labor Affairs, said that a study being carried out by government authorities including a committee from the Labor Ministry and a committee from the Ministry of Interior, will set the ground for the establishment of a single holding company that will include all the private bureaus that work in the field of foreign labor. The company will have offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. In time, each of the three sub-companies will open more branches in other regions. He added that the current labor import bureaus would operate until the three sub companies are established. The new companies will provide work permits and will be the only authority through which the private bureaus can arrange for labor. The company with its three main branches will also be responsible for resolving issues that may arise between workers and the employers.
Al-Zamel noted that the committees are close to completing the study of the three main branches of the holding company presented by the Saudi Chamber of Commerce. Al Zamel stressed that the Ministry will deny the rights to employ, for any household that mistreats its workers in any way and will force the employers to pay the expenses of the maids and drivers to return to their home countries. However, he made it clear that the Ministry will not interfere in cases of sexual or physical abuse of maids as the security forces or regional authorities are responsible for addressing such matters. He said his Ministry has the legal authority to enforce civil punishment rather than criminal punishment. He asserted that the Labor Ministry has increased the number of household investigators to enforce the new laws.