POLICY

New recruitment guidelines for domestic workers in Saudi Arabia cause unease

Getty Images/ColorBlind Images
Getty Images/ColorBlind Images
Getty Images/ColorBlind Images
It is mandatory for owners of companies and establishments to document electronically any new contracts signed with clients
PHOTO

DAMMAM — The recent approval of a program for online documentation of labor contracts by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has caused unease among a number of recruitment companies, especially with regard to punitive measures.

According to the program, which is set to come into force from July1, it is mandatory for owners of companies and establishments to document electronically through Musaned online service any new contracts signed with clients.

The ministry has also stressed that any contract for recruitment of domestic workers executed outside the program will be deemed invalid.

As the date for implementation of the new program draws near, recruitment offices’ sources claim that the ministry has imposed a 30 percent fine on recruitment offices for not complying with the condition that domestic workers must arrive within 90 days after the contract is signed. The ministry has also made it mandatory for offices and companies to receive and accommodate domestic workers they have recruited within the contract period.

Chairman of the Recruitment Committee at Asharqiya Chamber of Commerce and Industry Hussein Al-Mutairi has described the ministry’s decision on accommodation of workers as “appropriate”.

“All recruitment offices must provide accommodation to the workers, especially since the objective of this decision is to protect domestic workers and save the expenses incurred by the state-owned accommodation facilities, which run into some SR50 million annually,” Al-Mutairi asserted.

The recruitment offices will pass on the accommodation fees, not exceeding SR50 per day, to the sponsor (kafeel). However, the first day when the domestic worker arrives, it will be free of charge, Al-Mutairi said.

He ruled out any rise in the recruitment bill following implementation of the ministry’s decision on sheltering domestic workers.

The recruitment offices and companies are expected to provide new services in their accommodation facilities, which include giving clothes to domestic workers, aside from training courses, he added.

The various recruitment establishments across the Kingdom are in the process of setting up an accommodations company with a capital of SR20 million. The project is still under study by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Al-Abduljabbar, the owner of a recruitment office, said that a big section of recruitment offices in the Eastern Province is still not ready to receive domestic workers in their accommodation facilities.

It is incumbent on Category A offices to provide accommodation according to specific conditions, while Category B offices will do so with less stringent conditions. Category C offices are not obliged to provide accommodation. The majority of recruitment offices are registered in categories A and B, causing them to be unprepared to accommodate workers.

Al-Abduljabbar said it is likely that many recruitment offices would cooperate with one another to set up joint accommodations and look for a specific mechanism to overcome the problem.

He added that the bank guarantee for Category A offices is SR1m, for Category B offices SR750,000; and Category C offices SR450,000. Category C offices will focus on recruiting domestic workers only and will not be involved in renting.

The decision aims to reduce the number domestic workers being put in the anti-beggary administration shelters belonging to the ministry, Al-Abduljabbar further said.

The sources expect the new fine will lead to a 70 percent rise in the bill. Therefore, in the new contracts, the recruitment offices will factor in the hefty fine imposed by the ministry.

Recruitment offices have objected to the decision and they are set to send a letter to the ministry on Sunday.

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