Housemaids in Saudi Arabia get weekly day-off | The Daily Star
12:43 AM, July 20, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:39 AM, July 20, 2013

Housemaids in Saudi Arabia get weekly day-off

New law passed to protect their rights

The council of ministers in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday passed a new law to protect the rights of domestic workers as well as their employers.
The law allows the housemaids to enjoy nine-hour free time daily, a weekly day-off, one month's paid vacation after every two years, and medical leave.
Saudi Labour Minister Adel Fakeih told Arab News that the law would normalise relationship between domestic helps and their employers.
Emdadul Haque, Bangladesh embassy labour counsellor in Riyadh, said they had not yet received any official letter from the Saudi government in this regard.
He, however, said the decision would obviously encourage the housemaids to work here.
Asked about the number of Bangladeshi housemaids in Saudi Arabia, Emdadul said there are around 2,000-3,000 domestic helps now working here.
Sumaiya Islam, director of Bangladesh Ovibashi Mahila Sramik Association, welcomed the Saudi government's decision, but said the law still lacks standards as the housemaids are not allowed to go out of their workplaces.
“It is a timely decision for the housemaids. But the Saudi government must allow the housemaids to go to their own countries' embassies on their weekly day-off so that they can share their problems [with the embassy officials],” she observed.
According to the new law, employers can put a worker on probation for not more than three months.
“This will help an employer understand whether a worker can do the job and how she behaves,” Fakeih said.
Employers should pay the workers' salary at the end of every month without delay, and provide them with suitable accommodation and end-of-service benefits after four years, he added.
If an employer violates the contract rule, he or she will be fined SR2,000 and banned from recruiting workers for a year.
For a second-time violator, the fine will increase to SR5,000. The violator will also be banned from recruiting workers for three years. A third-time violator will face a lifetime recruitment ban and a fine of SR10,000.
On the other hand, a worker will be fined SR2,000 and prevented from working in the Kingdom for violating the contract rule. She will have to pay for journey back home, according to the new law.

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