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Thu 31 Mar 2016 11:21 AM

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Saudi to fine companies $26,700 for counting weekends as annual leave

Companies penalised if they take weekends from employees’ holiday allowance

Saudi to fine companies $26,700 for counting weekends as annual leave
(AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi Arabian authorities plan to issue a SR100,000 ($26,700) fine to any company that subtracts weekends from employees’ annual leave, according to reports.

Under Saudi law, weekends are not to be counted as part of annual leave allowance. But the Ministry of Labour has reportedly recorded instances where employers have breached this rule.

Saudi Gazette, citing Arabic daily Makkah, quoted an official source as saying: “The ministry has recorded several cases where companies and employers exploit the ignorance of employees about their rights.

“Many companies count the weekends as part of annual vacation which is a clear violation of the Saudi Labor Law.

“Weekends are official paid leave. No company has the right to force its employees to work during the weekend and no company has the right to deduct salary for the weekends.”

The ministry has the right to increase the penalty stated under the law when the violation is repeated, and it may also take legal action, the source added.

In certain cases, the ministry has the authority to close down the company for 30 days, according to the newspaper. And, if the violation is repeated, the company’s licence could be cancelled.

Debates are ongoing in the kingdom at present over plans to cut the private sector working week from six to five days.

The decision is aimed at encouraging more Saudis to work in the private sector. Under the plans, private sector employees would work 40 hours a week with two days off.