Two-day weekend stays
The Labor Ministry has denied reports that it was withdrawing the 40-hour work week and two-day weekend system in the private sector after coming under pressure from businesses.
The ministry said the revised labor law proposing a two-day weekend has already been presented to higher authorities for approval.
“Two-day weekends and 40-hour work weeks are still part of the new draft labor law,” said Tayseer Al-Mufarrej, ministry spokesman, in response to a report published by an Arabic newspaper.
“The rumors that have circulated on social media sites saying that the ministry was withdrawing the article related to reducing weekly working hours and increasing the work week days is not true,” the spokesman said.
“The ministry has presented the draft law to higher authorities for endorsement or observation and the ministry has not withdrawn any of its articles or regulations,” Al-Mufarrej said.
The Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) had objected to the two-day weekend, saying such a move would lead to huge losses among construction, operation and maintenance businesses, especially contract-based government projects that are based on 48-hour work weeks, according to a local daily.
The council had maintained that only expat workers, who represent about 85 percent of the total work force, would benefit from the two-day weekend. The council had also argued that the private sector would be forced to recruit at least 30 percent more expats to stay on schedule.
“Several Saudi businessmen rejected the idea of a two-day weekend because government projects need to be completed on time,” one source told Arab News.
“These businessmen maintain that such a decision would have a negative impact on the economy and would increase economic burden by a third,” Abdul Aziz Al-Rashed, a Saudi businessman, told Arab News.
Several GCC countries that had adopted the two-day weekend increased the number of working hours during the five working days to ensure 48 hours of work per employee per week. The Shoura Council had endorsed a proposal to reduce weekly working hours in the private sector from 45 to 40 with a two-day weekend at the end of last year.