Under article 28 of the KSA Labour Law (Royal Decree No (D/51) dated 23/8/1426 AH as amended) an employer is under a duty to promote the employment of Saudi disabled employees and to facilitate their employment by making adjustments to the workplace.

Article 28 states (in the unofficial English translation): Each employer employing twenty- five workers or more where the nature of his work allows recruitment of the professionally disabled shall employ a number of disabled that represents at least 4% of the total number of his workers whether through nomination by the employment units or otherwise, and he shall send to the competent labor office a list of the jobs and posts occupied by the professionally rehabilitated disabled persons and their wages.

The Executive Regulations of the Labour Law and its Annexes published in May 2016 (Implementing Regulations), elaborate on this duty clarifying that in order to have the protection of the relevant provisions, the individual must be registered with the General Organisation for Social Insurance (GOSI) as disabled and have a GOSI certificate. A GOSI certificate is obtained through obtaining a medical report issued by the Ministry of Health or hospitals in other government sectors. The individual also requires an ID card from the Ministry of Social Affairs and from the Ministry of Labour identifying the type and degree of his disability.

Disabilities covered by the relevant provisions are vision disability, hearing impairment, mental disability, physical disability, motion disability, learning difficulties, speech and language disorders, behavioural disorders, emotional disorders, autism or any other disability requiring any form of facilitating arrangements and services.

The Labour Law and the Implementing Regulations permit an employer to apply the same standards of competency and skill requirements of disabled employees as of other employees. The key is that they are entitled to assistance in order to meet those requirements by way of engineering modifications, adaptations of work conditions and the work environment. Annex 3 of the Implementing Regulations specify a number of adjustments which should be made with reference to specific disabilities. By way of example these adjustments include:

  • Providing adequate washroom facilities, adjusted heights for shelves and facilities;
  • Computer software converting speech to text, adjustable keyboards, computers which can be controlled by feet, lips or mouth, screen readers;
  • Provision of adjusted cars;
  • Sign language interpreter or training another member of staff in sign language; and
  • Suitable ergonomic chairs;

The Implementing Regulations also state that disabled employees should not suffer any discrimination with regard to wages due to their disability and should not be excluded from vocational training, promotion, or continued employment due to their disability. An employer is also under a duty to maintain records setting out the number of employees with disabilities, the jobs they occupy, wages and type of adjustments which have been made (whether physical adjustments or additional supportive services being provided). This information may be requested by labour inspectors.

Given these significant provisions in the Labour Law and the Implementing Regulations, disabled employees are empowered to seek employment and insist on equal treatment with other employees, as well as request adjustments from their employer. If an employer failed or refused to make adequate provisions then an individual could complain to the Ministry of Labour and the Labour Commission for a breach of the law. Whilst there is strictly speaking no free standing claim of discrimination to be raised, an employee is able to complain about specific breaches of these obligations. The Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) also has programmes to support the employment of disabled employees and the Ministry of Labour and HRDF sponsor the Business Disability Network which provides networking forums for employers to discuss the employment of disabled employees, education programs for employers and staff on issues involved in recruiting and employing disabled staff and advice to employers in how best to recruit and employ disabled employees.