10-hour shift hits women employment

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Despite government efforts to support women’s employment in the private sector, their participation in the labor force is not up to the desired level owing to the obstacles in implementing the decision including the 10-hour working day that tops the list.

Women employees have said that working for long hours is negatively impacting women psychologically and socially and particularly their families, which has led to their resignations.

Fatima Qaroub, a social activist and consultant said women’s working hours had initially been set at eight but the decision was changed because these hours did not include the prayer times.

According to Qaroub, the six-hour system should have been applied giving employees two hours for a break and prayers. She pointed out that some employers had resorted to an 11-hour working day, which means that they only have to pay one employee but this is not acceptable because women have family commitments.

She added that some women are forced to choose between work and family, which is illogical since some of them need to work to help support their families.

“Some companies gave women fewer holidays because they said that they give them a two-hour break,” she said. She stressed that companies should be obliged to follow the eight-hour working day to retain women in the workforce and protect companies from being left in the lurch by their employees who decide to abandon them for better prospects.

Amani Al-Qarni, a human resource official in a company said most women employees agree that the 10-day working shift is too long because it has negative effects on women in general and married women in particular. “This decision is in the interest of neither party; the employee or the employer,” she said.

She added that she left her last job because of the long working hours.

Al-Qarni also said that transportation should be taken into consideration because women employees often live at a distance from the workplace, which adds to the number of hours they stay away from home.

Lama’ Matar, a training specialist said the 10-hour working day is too long and that no one will allow his wife, sister or daughter to stay that long outside the house.

She said this decision has pushed many women to quit jobs. “This decision is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor and companies can’t ignore it, because the ministry might conduct inspections on these facilities asking employees about their working hours,” she said.

The 10-hour working day has been in effect for some time now, said a saleswoman in a shopping center, but “the hours are too long and the work is exhausting.”

Deputy Chairman of the human resource committee in the Jeddah chamber, Abdullah Atiyah Al-Zahrani, said the eight-hour shift would increase women’s productivity. “Companies should appreciate the circumstances of working women especially with regard to the transportation issue. I don’t expect owners of establishments to employ one woman to save on salaries, especially in light of the implementation of true Saudization.”


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