Rights of Employees under Saudi Labor Law

It has been observed that in Saudi Arabia, some sponsors exploit their employees. It is not only their mistake that they exploit; it is also your mistake as you don’t even know the rights you have under Saudi Labor Law. You can only claim your right if you know about it.

Here we shall try to elaborate the rights of employees in Saudi Arabia. Once my uncle was unfairly terminated, I wrote an email on his behalf giving references to different articles of Saudi Labor Law and explaining how the termination is unfair. The HR department accepted this email and took back his notice of termination and gave him another notice with fair compensation.

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Recruitment Expenses: We have seen many cases where employees bear the recruitment expenses which is actually the liability of the employer. The Employer is not allowed to ask the worker to bear expenses related to recruitment, fees on issue & renewal of residence permit (Iqama) & work license, fees resulting from renewal delay, fees of sponsorship transfer for work, job title change fees and exit re-entry visas fees. If you are a legitimate employee and employer asks for the above-mentioned expenses, you can bring him to the court. – Article 40 (1) of Saudi Labor Law

The right to Iqama: Residence permit in Saudi Arabia is called iqama. Iqama is the permit to live in Saudi Arabia and you need to keep it with you all the time. It is your right to ask for the Iqama by labor law and your employer will bear all the expenses related to this (According to Article 40.1 of Saudi Labor Law). If your sponsor does not provide you Iqama within three months of your arrival to Saudi Arabia, you can search another job and transfer your sponsorship without permission of the employer.

Right to Keep Passport: All of us know that employers in Saudi Arabia hold the passports of their employees who are under his sponsorship. However, only a few of us know that this act of holding passports of employees by Kafeel is illegal. I have explained it in detail in this article, “Legality of Holding Passport by Kafeel

Probation Period: According to Saudi labor law, the probation period cannot exceed 3 months. If your employer asks you to extend the probation period, you should not allow it as it is against the law. We have further explained the “Rules related to Probation Period under Saudi Labor Law”, Can I request Transfer of Sponsorship within Probation Period?, Can I request Final Exit within 3 months?

Right to have a Contract: It is your right to ask for a proper contract after the expiry of probation period. If the contract is in Arabic, you can ask for a contract either written in English or in both languages. Nowadays, most of the companies use bilingual contracts for the expatriate employees. Read here, Legality of Arabic / English Employment Contract

Nature of Contract: It is very important for you to understand the nature of your contract as it affects your rights and duties. We have covered it in detail in this link “Fixed Term and Indefinite Contract”

Rights of Employees in Absence of Contract: If your employer has not signed a contract with you, you still have some rights which are covered in this link “Rights of Employees in Absence of Contract in Saudi Arabia”

Working Hours and Overtime: Although it is not covered by the contract, but Saudi Labor Law sets a maximum limit of 48 working hours in a week. If your employer is asking you to work more than that, you are actually entitled to overtime of 1.5 times of normal time wages. Read here for further details “Working Hours and Overtime Calculation”

Annual Leave and Vacations: For the detail of vacations you are entitled to in Saudi Arabia, read our article “Vacations under Saudi Labor Law”. It is important to mention here that the right of vacation is different from the right of air ticket as per Saudi Labor Law.

The right of Air Ticket: We have explained the “Right of Air Ticket as per Saudi Labor Law” in this link.

Leave Encashment: At the end of the contract, employee is also entitled to receive “Leave Encashment

Termination / Resignation: An employee needs to give proper notice to his employer if he wants to leave the organization and same goes with the employer. Rules related to notice period under Saudi Labor Law has been explained in this article. “Notice Period Under Saudi Labor Law“. There are some cases when an employee can resign without rendering any notice to the employer, these cases have been explained in this link. “Resignation without Notice Period

Termination without Notice Period: Your employer has a right to terminate you without any notice if you are involved in any activity given in this link “Termination without Notice Period under Saudi Labor Law

End of Service Benefits: Employees are entitled to get the end of service benefits at the end of their employment term. For the detailed reading of your entitlement of End of Service Benefits, please read this “End of Service Benefits Calculation

Fee for Transfer of Sponsorship: It is the general practice in Saudi Arabia that almost 99.99% companies don’t bear full charges of Iqama transfer. They only bear the charges equivalent to the amount payable as first transfer of Iqama i.e. SR 2,000. According to Saudi Labor Law, the Kafeel to whom an employee is transferring in will bear all the expenses of Iqama Transfer. We have published a separate article regarding it. Please read it for further details. “Responsibility of Iqama Transfer Fee

Death or Disability at work site: If an employee dies or gets permanent partial or full disability on the work site, he is entitled to “Compensation for Work Injury under Saudi Labor Law” from sponsor as well as “Benefits from GOSI

Relocation of Employee by Employer: As per the changes in Saudi Labor Law approved by Ministry of Labor, an employer cannot transfer an employee to another location without written permission of the employee. Recommended: Can employer relocate me to another location under Saudi Labor Law? – Article 58

Payment Schedule: An employer cannot change the payment schedule (monthly, weekly, daily, hourly) of the employee without having written consent of the employee.

Assigning Additional Work: As per Article 38 of the Saudi Labor Law, an employer cannot assign the work to an employee in addition to what has been agreed upon between them. In the case of emergency, even if he has to assign it, it will not be more than 30 days in a year.

Emergency Leave: An employee may need an emergency leave for some days while working in Saudi Arabia. We have published a separate article on this topic “Rules regarding Emergency Leave in Saudi Arabia”

The rule for Salary Increment: When an employee keeps on working for a longer period of time, he looks for the salary increment. We have covered it in this topic “Rule for Salary Increment in Saudi Arabia”

Suspension from Work: An employer cannot suspend you from work more than a certain time period. We have covered it in this link “Suspension from Work under Saudi Labor Law”

According to article 64 of the SLL, at the end of the employment agreement, the employer must issue a certificate of employment (free of charge) to the employee. The certificate must not include anything that can harm the reputation of the employee. All the documents and certificates of the employee must also be returned immediately.

Rights of Women: Saudi Labor Law gives extra rights to the women working in Saudi Arabia and we have covered it in this link “Rights of Women under Saudi Labor Law

Average Salary by Profession in Saudi Arabia: Asking for a package or accepting a job offer can be dodging for you if you don’t know about the average salary of your profession in Saudi Arabia, I have published an article regarding this from which you can take a guidance about the package to ask for. “Average Salary by Profession in Saudi Arabia

  • William

    Dear Mr. Steve,

    I want to ask if I am entitled to be paid for the number of days I am waiting for my ESB and salary from my company. I will STOP WORK ( per company instruction ) on July 31 as I have resigned from the company I work for 18 years. But it will take me around 2 weeks before the company releases the money ( from ESB ). So, I may have to wait while out of work for 2 weeks before I fly home. CAN I ASK MY EMPLOYER TO PAY ME THIS 2 WEEKS WHILE WAITING FOR MY MONEY ?

    Thank you and more power to you!


  • Mudesar hasan

    Steve i want to ask queastion i came saudi arabia before 2 month ago and my ist iqama is prepared and i have also collect it butt my kafeel said give me 400 ryal monthly basis is it true ? I hear that ist year is free for expatriates kindly tell me some suggestion

  • GayleProFucker

    My brother is there and he say i pay SR 22000 for iqama renewal
    any one plx is it legal amount?

  • Janel Daligdig

    Dear mr.steve

    Is the employee will receive ESB even if He/She did not finished their contract?

    For example: 2 years contract and he/she resign 8 months before the contract end.

  • Mohammed Riyaz

    Hi steve,
    this is regarding my uncle who is working at jiddha at one of the resturants as an accountant.. he had been working there almost 2 months. issue is that he is not been paid by the employer.. and he was saying there is not rights to ask them directly.. now he is left with no money and starving with no food..
    is there anyway he can be helped..
    Looking for your reply…..


    Hi Steve
    I won the case in labor court, they have given only announcement, my kafeel is still not giving exit. what will next situation or what i have to do.

  • You need to contact the court again.
    I would appreciate if you can share the experience of filing the case with labor office. It will help thousands of expatriates in Saudi Arabia. Jazak Allah! my email address is [email protected]

  • Hussein

    Hi Steve

    I would really appreciate if you helped me with the following question. I have dual nationalities, what is the process of changing my nationality on the iqama?

  • Hussein

    Hi Steve

    I would really appreciate if you helped me with the following question. I have dual nationalities, what is the process of changing my nationality on the iqama?

  • lou

    Hi Steve
    This information is very useful! So thank you for providing it.
    I am currently in negotiations in regards to my contract. I will be moving to Saudi next month from the U.K. to work as a nanny. They have put in my contract that I will be working 12 hours a day 6 days a week at an additional payment of only 1 hours worth of pay for any overtime, I’m assuming having read the info you have provided that this is very wrong
    Kind regards

  • This is in violation of Saudi Labor Law. They cannot write 12 working hours a day in your contract, neither 12X6=72 working hours a week. The maximum is 8 working hours a day and 48 a week.
    Overtime is only for emergency situation, it cannot be part of the contract.

  • Helios RS Collins

    Hi Steve
    I been 5 months here in the kingdom. I work as an engineer but still i dont have Iqama. I will consult what agency can i go to help to have that or how to transfer in new company because you it is difficult if you dont have that i ask my boss and i always email them but they didnt reply.

    Thank you


  • Philip Desdalisa

    hi steve is there a law saying about expats that is working near the war zone? thank you


    hi steve..

    my kafeel have very hold in embassy and labor court so many of our company employees are already give complaint against him but the final stage will be exit without salary of pending 3 of them get exit with 8 months pending salary now i have 5 month pending salary if i go labor court he wont give me salary and take exit without money all he do with his money power 4 people don’t get any salary he has provided 200 riyal each month for food we are here to work for our family what we do. as i know the Saudi law only favorable for Saudi people want we should do

    can i transfer my visa if i can then can i use the license of driving that already given by this company and all my passport and all things are in this company custody

  • Sajid Khan

    since six months i am going to court nothing has been done till now date over date only
    is this justice you get your right after one year and half of your money you spend on taxi

  • Shimaia

    Hi Mr. Steve

    Good day!
    Just some clarification. We are working in a factory and here is our schedule details..

    DUTY HOURS: 10hrs + 1.5hr over time and 30min only for break time.
    SALARY: 1500sr + 300sr food allowance

    Is this still lawful or under Saudi labor law for expatriate?
    Please advice. Thank you in advance.

  • Grace

    Hi steve,Hi steve,

    This is Grace I would like to ask about the expiration of my contract. My contract will finish at this coming december 2017 and I really want to go home or exit on time but my employer would not allow me to go home instead he want me to extend 3 months. I don’t agree of that because I know it is my right to complaint I already finish my contract on that time and why would I extend? Is there any right for me to disagree of my employer? And to where I can ask for help about this problem?
    Hoping you to reply me.

    Thank you.

    This is Grace I would like to ask about the expiration of my contract. My contract will finish at this coming december 2017 and I really want to go home or exit on time but my employer would not allow me to go home instead he want me to extend 3 months. I don’t agree of that because I know it is my right to complaint I already finish my contract on that time and why would I extend? Is there any right for me to disagree of my employer? And to where I can ask for help about this problem?
    Hoping you to reply me.

    Thank you.



  • Faisal Ismail

    Dear Sir
    i give resign 3-06-2017 and my last working day is 3-07-2017. and till 15-07-2017 i am waiting for my final payment. but my company need me again and i agree with them and rejoin my same possition 15-07-2017 but after two days again thay said we no need any more 17-07-2017 and we continue yours resignation is it possible thay continue or thay terminate me with 1 month notice kandly guide me in this condition what i do because if thay continue my resign i buy my own ticket and ESB also half.
    Best Regards
    Faisal Ismail

  • Mayyaddi Thannirubavi

    Dear Sir, I have joined one of the hotel in Riyadh since 4 months, but my kafeel is different and keeping my passport even iqama not yet done.i would like to go emergency exit re entry for 15 days because of my father death.please reply to me as soon as possible.
    Thank you

  • Gabriel Jimenez

    I want to know.
    What should I do if my employer breach the contract and stop paying the accommodation where we live and stop giving food allowance as it is specified in my contract?
    Thanks to reply as soon as possible.
    Thank you very much!!!

  • Mir mir

    Could to plz help me out how can i exit without Iqama & passport. Which are with the kafeel (Owner) not providing to employees

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