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.[irp]
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.
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”