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What are the requirements relating to advertising positions?
In order to obtain a work visa for an expatriate employee, the employer must first show that it has advertised locally to Saudi nationals through the Human Resources Development Fund for a minimum of two weeks.
The non-Saudi employee can be employed and undertake work only as stipulated in the work permit, which cannot be renewed without the employer first ascertaining whether any Saudi nationals with the required skills want the position.
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries in relation to the following:
(a) Criminal records?
Police clearance certificates are available, but only in limited circumstances.
(b) Medical history?
Under the immigration procedures, non-Saudi national employees must undergo a medical check. When an expatriate is recruited, he or she must obtain a medical examination certificate in his or her home country including a negative test for contagious diseases (particularly HIV) and up-to-date vaccinations (including meningococcal, hepatitis A and B and, depending on the home country, typhoid).
(c) Drug screening?
The law does not expressly prohibit drug screening and, given the serious attitude of the Saudi authorities towards drug possession, pre-employment drug testing is unlikely to result in a backlash against the employer. Alcohol is also prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Employers can carry out random drug and alcohol testing of employees using the Ministry of Labour’s accredited system and registered government-designated clinics. This service is particularly common in the oil and gas industry.
(d) Credit checks?
The Saudi Credit Bureau offers consumer credit information services in Saudi Arabia.
(e) Immigration status?
Employers are required to secure work and residence permits for foreign employees brought into the country. A non-Saudi national employee must carry his or her residence permit for identification purposes at all times. Although it is unlawful, it is common practice for employers to hold employees’ passports until the employee leaves the country, as employers are liable for the administrative cost of the employee’s exit and re-entry.
(f) Social media?
The Cybercrime Law prohibits the processing of information that infringes privacy through electronic means. However, although the law is broadly worded, it is unlikely to prohibit employers from viewing publicly available information on potential employees.
Wages and working time
Is there a national minimum wage and, if so, what is it?
There is no minimum wage. However, the Labour Law states that the Council of Ministers shall set a minimum wage if it becomes necessary.
In order for a Saudi national to be included in the quota set down by the regulations on the employment of nationals in the private sector, the employee must be paid at least Sr3,000 a month.
Are there restrictions on working hours?
The maximum working hours (except for senior employees and managers, who are exempt from relevant provisions) are eight hours a day and 48 hours in a six-day week. An employee's total working hours, including overtime, should not exceed 10 hours a day or 60 hours in a six-day week. Friday is the weekly rest day for all workers. There is also an annual overtime cap of 481 hours.
Certain sectors can operate a nine-hour day, while some are required to operate a seven-hour day for health and safety reasons. The Ministry of Labour sets the maximum number of permitted overtime hours that an employee can be asked to work.
During Ramadan, the statutory working hours are reduced by two hours for Muslim employees.
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Employees should not work more than five consecutive hours without a break of at least 30 minutes in any working day and should not remain at the workplace for more than 11 hours in total.
Working hours do not include periods designated for rest, prayers and meals.
How should overtime be calculated?
Overtime is payable at 100% of the employee's usual hourly wage, plus a bonus rate of 50% of basic pay.
All work on Fridays and public holidays is considered to be overtime.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
The statutory provisions for working hours and the working week do not apply to executive management (referred to as "persons occupying high positions of authority in management and policy”).
In firms where employees work in shifts, employers may increase working hours in excess of eight hours a day or 48 hours a week, subject to certain thresholds. All shifts must be pre-approved by the Ministry of Labour.
Is there a minimum paid holiday entitlement?
The minimum annual paid holiday entitlement is 21 calendar days after one year’s service, increasing to 30 calendar days once the employee has completed five years' service.
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
Employees have a right to a cash payment on termination, calculated as follows:
- 15 days' wages for each of the first five years’ employment; and
- 30 days' wages for each year thereafter.
For the purposes of calculating this entitlement, the wage generally includes the total amounts paid to the employee. However, in some circumstances certain payments may be excluded from the calculation.
Due to the lack of interaction between the social security laws (which provide benefits for Saudi national employees) and the Labour Law, the position in Saudi Arabia relating to the end of service payment for Saudi nationals is complex and involves a varied calculation. However, Saudi nationals are entitled to both employer contributions into the state pension scheme and the end of service payment.
The employer must pay the employee his or her wages and settle any entitlements within one week of termination, extended to two weeks for employees who resign.
The employer can deduct any work-related debt from the employee's entitlements. However, only limited categories of payment may be deducted from the employee's wages without the employee's written consent (eg, the repayment of loans or fines imposed on the employee).
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
All employers must be registered with the Ministry of Labour and must maintain up-to-date records of company premises, lists of employees and general manager and employer contact details. In keeping with training obligations, each employer must also keep a record showing the names of the Saudi workers who have received training and who have replaced non-Saudi national employees.
Arabic versions of contracts and records will be taken as the accepted version by the Saudi courts and ministries.
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