By Courtney Trenwith
A Saudi business chamber claims this week’s decision to reduce the private sector working week to 40 hours, with two days off, will cause havoc in businesses
A business lobby group in Saudi Arabia claims a recent decision to implement a two-day weekend and 40-hour working week in the private sector will force up prices and adversely affect the kingdom’s economy.
On Monday, the Shoura Council, a government advisory body, recommended reducing the working week from 45 hours, including two days off, which would bring the kingdom into line with other Gulf states.
The change is yet to be ratified by King Abdullah.
The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC), a collective of regional business chambers, immediately urged the Shoura Council to reconsider its decision, arguing the reduced working hours would increase business and labour costs.
In a letter outlining its opposition to the new conditions, the CSC said the decision would cause businesses to lose money, increase the prices of goods and services and make Saudi exports less competitive.
It would particularly hurt contracting, operations and maintenance companies, and labour costs would rise if businesses had to pay workers overtime to meet deadlines on government projects.
It was not clear what the impact would be on existing employee contracts, which in some cases are based on a 48-hour working week.
The council also said arguments that reducing the working week would entice more Saudis into the private sector were unfounded.