It’s well chronicled that Filipinos and other foreign workers are abused by employers in Saudi Arabia. While no doubt it’s wrong to exploit vulnerable workers who have fewer options and away from home, it’s also wrong for workers to fail to understand their rights.
So what are these so-called rights of expatriates and migrant workers?
Employees have the right not to spend on recruitment costs.
This means employers should shoulder expenses related to recruitment of the employee such as government fee, application for work permit, issue and renewal of Iqama and other related documentation. Should an employer demand that you pay for the above-mentioned items, you can bring him to court and file complaint.
Employees have the right to an Iqama
As the de facto identification that indicate someone has legal right to stay in Saudi Arabia, it is a basic requirement that an employer has to process for the employee. Iqama is so important that you have to bring it with you all the time. If your employer refuses to apply for your Iqama, you can also bring an employer to court.
Employees have the right to keep their passports
Although this practice has been widespread based on accounts of Filipino workers particularly household service workers, the practice of employers keeping passports of employees for safekeeping, security or whatever reason is illegal. In 2013, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement declaring that Saudi employers are required to hand over passports and iqama back to employees.
Employees have the right to complain if probation period exceeds 3 months
Just like in many other jobs, a probation period is establish to properly gauge if the employee skills fit the job and employee is happy with the working conditions set by the sponsor.
However, it is wrong to keep going with probation after the period. An employee has the right to ask for a proper employment contract after the probation period. Once the employer asks for extension of probation period, he is committing a violation of Saudi labor laws. It is also a right of the employee to ask for English or bilingual (English and Arabic) contract so terms of employment is clear to both parties.
Employees have the right to ask for overtime pay
In February, Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council voted to implement a 40-hour-week and two-day rest weekly for private employees. This means once you’re subjected to work for more than the prescribed hours, you are entitled to overtime pay of 1.5 times your normal hourly wage.
Employees have the right to vacation holidays
Employees have the right to take a break from work not only because it’s a basic right, but it’s also mandated by Saudi labor laws. We have an extensive list of paid holiday and vacation leaves employees are entitled to.
Employees have the right to notice period on employment termination
As every employee needs to give a proper notice period if he wants to leave the company or organization, employees also need to do the same in case it wishes to terminate the working relationship with the employee.
Article 75 of Saudi Labor law (unofficial translation)
If the contract is of an indefinite term, either party may terminate it for a valid reason to be specified in a written notice to be served to the other party at least thirty days prior to the termination date if the workman is paid monthly and not less than fifteen days for others.
Employees have the right to receive End of Service benefits
Employees who leave the organization after a certain number of years of service or due for retirement, the company is obliged to grant end of service benefits.
Employees have the right to ask for help from Saudi labor offices
To settle dispute between migrant workers and employers, the Saudi Arabian government set up 37 labor offices across the entire Kingdom. Unresolved issues can be elevated to the Preliminary Commission and the High Commission for settlement of labor disputes.
Note: We cannot vouch for the accuracy of the numbers nor the effectiveness of these labor offices.
|Labour office||Telephone No.|
|Labour Office in Riyadh Region||011/4039857|
|Labour Office in Kharj Province||011/4548231|
|Labour Office in Dawadmi Province||011/6420920|
|Labour Office in Majmaa’ Province||016/4321724|
|Labour Office in Wadi Addawasir Province||011/7840264|
|Labour Office in Zulfi Province||016/4220235|
|Labour Office in Shaqra Province||011/6221342|
|Labour Office in Makka Region||012/5420745|
|Labour Office in Jeddah Province||012/6311687|
|Labour Office in Taif Province||012/7461616|
|Labour Office in Qunfudah Province||017/7320761|
|Labour Office in Madinah Region||014/8654416|
|Labour Office in Yanbu Province||014/3222688|
|Labour Office in Al-Ula’ Province||014/8840830|
|Labour Office in Qassim Region (Buraidah)||016/3250387|
|Labour Office in Onaizah Province||016/3640285|
|Labour Office in Al-Rass Province||014/3333502|
|Labour Office in Hail Province||016/5321139|
|Labour Office in the Eastern Region (Dammam)||013/8261419|
|Labour Office in Ahsa’ Province||013/5822801|
|Labour Office in Hafr albatin Province||013/7220220|
|Labour Office in Khobar Province||013/8641541|
|Labour Office in Abqaiq Province||013/5661324|
|Labour Office in Jubail Province||013/3620150|
|Labour Office in Khafji Province||013/7660380|
|Labour Office in Ras Tannurah Province||013/6670424|
|Labour Office in Aseer Region (Abha)||017/2242128|
|Labour Office in Bisha Province||017/6226718|
|Labour Office in Baha Region||017/7253240|
|Labour Office in Najran Region||017/5224995|
|Labour Office in Jazan Region||017/3213671|
|Labour Office in Jauf Region||014/6241766|
|Labour Office in Qurayyat Province||014/6421108|
|Labour Office in Tabuk Province||014/4221181|
|Labour Office in Alwajh Province||014/4421970|
|Labour Office in the Northern Frontiers Region (Arar)||014/6627128|
|Labour Office in Turaif Province||014/6521029|
|Expatriate Workers’ Care Dept.||011/2104588|