RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development is considering raising the fees paid by expats for their work permits once again, a move that could benefit Saudi citizens who compete for jobs with foreigners.
Discussing different labor issues, Ahmed Al-Humaidan, deputy minister, said the proposal to grant the two-day weekend to Saudi employees only, in both public and private sectors, would be an embarrassment for the ministry at international forums, especially since the Kingdom is a signatory to international agreements that forbid discrimination of any sort.
He said the ministry is currently working on reaching the decision to close shops at 9 p.m. sharp.
The decision to increase the work permit fees has been on the table for a while; it is an issue determined by the labor market, by the number of foreign laborers and the extent to which such a decision will affect the market. The new fees have yet to be determined.
“We keep options open in our endeavor to address the labor market problems,” the official said, adding: “Our problems are different from those elsewhere in the world. We have both unemployment and recruitment, and thus everything is open to negotiation pending development.”
Al-Humaidan confirmed that the idea of the two-day weekend, which aims to reduce the gap between employees in the public and private sectors, is still in the legislative framework, as the decision makers must consider a large number of studies and ensure that it benefits all stakeholders.
“The difference would be substantial by reducing the weekly working hours from 48 to 40, which translates into 8 hours per week or 32 hours a month. If a company has 10,000 employees, how many hours of work would be lost?”