Last updated on: June 19th, 2023
Employment in Saudi Arabia is regulated by the Labor Law, the Social Insurance Law, and provisions of Shari’a (Islamic law). The Labour Code governs the terms and conditions of employment such as working hours, holidays and rest periods, wages, overtime, and employment relationships.
Hours & Pay Regulations
An employee is initially entitled to 21 days of paid annual leave, which increases to 30 days after five consecutive years with one employer. Employers may set the dates of employees’ leave based on work requirements and must notify the employee of the date of leave at least 30 days in advance of the leave.
An employee should avail of the annual leave in the year it is due. Employees may not waive the leave or receive cash in lieu of vacation during their period of service. The employer may set the dates of such leave according to work requirements or may grant them in rotation to ensure the smooth progress of work. The employer shall notify the employee of the date of the employee’s leave in-sufficient time of not less than 30 days.
An employer may postpone the employee’s leave for not more than 90 days after the end of the year it is due if required by work needs. If work conditions require a further extension, the employee’s consent must be obtained in writing. The postponement cannot extend beyond the end of the year following the year in which the leave becomes due to an employee.
Annual Leave after Termination of Employment
The employee is entitled to a wage for the accrued days of the leave if the employment is terminated without using such leave. This applies to work periods where the employees have not used the leave entitled to them. The employee will be entitled to be paid for the leave for the part of the year in proportion to the time the employee worked. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 109-111 (Arabic).
There is no official minimum wage for private-sector employees in Saudi Arabia, although the government has recommended a minimum of 4,000 SAR a month effective November, 2020. Individual employment contracts set wages.
Mandatory Bonuses: Saudi Arabia does not mandate employers to provide bonus payments to employees, but it is customary to provide employees a 13th-month bonus on Eid al-Fitr.
An employee is entitled to 30 days of sick leave at full pay annually, an additional 60 days at 75 percent pay and following 30 days of unpaid leave during a single year, whether such leaves are continuous or intermittent. A single year for this purpose begins from the date of the first sick leave.
A domestic employee is also entitled to 30 days of sick leave as long as a medical report is provided certifying the need for leave.
If the employee is injured while performing his work or feels that he cannot continue performing his work due to sickness, the employee shall submit a request to his line manager on the same day for referral to the competent medical committee for medical examination and determining necessary actions in this regard. In addition, the referral shall be according to the form prepared for this purpose. If the employee’s health condition requires granting him sick leave, the competent medical committee that examined him shall issue a report on the same and send the original thereof to his employer on the same day on which the employee is examined or in no later than the next day, while providing the employee with an approved copy thereof.
An employer may not terminate an employee’s services because of illness without first letting the employee exhaust sick leave. The employee may request that sick leave be combined with annual leave. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, art. 137 (Arabic).
Female employees shall be entitled to fully paid maternity leave for a period of 10 weeks to be divided at the female worker’s discretion. The employer must allow the female employee to begin the maternity leave at least 3 weeks prior to the date of birth, as determined by a medical certificate authenticated by a health agency. The expected date of delivery shall be determined pursuant to a medical report certified by a health authority. The female employee may not, under any circumstances, work during the 6 weeks immediately following delivery. The employee shall be entitled to extend the leave for an additional 2 months as unpaid leave.
In the event of giving birth to a sick child or a child with special needs whose health condition requires a constant companion, a female employee shall be entitled to a 1-month leave with full pay starting at the end of the maternity leave and she shall be entitled to extend the leave for an additional month as unpaid leave.
Female employees in all cases are entitled to fully paid maternity leave in addition to fully paid annual leave. An employer shall provide medical care for female employees during pregnancy and delivery.
An employer may not terminate the employment of a female employee or give her a warning while she is on maternity leave. An employer also may not terminate her employment for the duration of an illness resulting from pregnancy or delivery if such illness is established by a certified medical report and the period of her absence does not exceed 180 days.
Breastfeeding Break – When an employee returns to work following maternity leave, she is entitled, in addition to the rest periods granted to all employees, to a paid rest period or periods not exceeding in aggregate 1 hour per day for nursing her infant. Such periods are considered part of her working hours and the employee’s wage is not deducted for taking the break. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 151-156 (Arabic).
A father is entitled to 3 days of paid paternity leave for a child’s birth. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005 (Arabic).
Employees are entitled to 5 days of paid leave following the death of their spouse, ascendants, or descendants.
A female Muslim employee whose husband has passed away shall be entitled to 4 months and 10 days of paid leave. and if the female Muslim employee is pregnant during this period, the leave may be extended on an unpaid basis until birth. Any period of leave remaining after birth may not be rolled over.
Note: The amended labor also states that such paid leave period shall not be provided to a Muslim female employee in case of her divorce.
A Non-Muslim female employee whose husband has passed away shall be entitled to receive 15 days of paid leave. The employer is permitted to request supporting documentation of death in all cases. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 113.
An employee, subject to the employer’s approval, may obtain leave without pay for a length of time agreed to between the employer and employee. The work contract will be considered suspended for any leave over 20 days unless both parties agree otherwise. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 116.
Short-term work-related disability leave gives an employee the right to fully paid leave for 60 days, and 75% of the wages owed to the employee for the entire duration of his treatment up until 1 year. After 1 year lapses, or it is medically determined that the injured employee’s chances of recovery are improbable or that the employee is no longer physically fit to work, the injury shall be deemed a total disability. In this case, the contract shall be terminated and the employee shall be compensated for the injury. The employer shall not be entitled to recover payments made to the injured employee during that year. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 137 (Arabic).
An employee enrolled in an educational institution is entitled to paid leave to sit for an examination of an un-repeated year. However, for the examinations of a repeated year, the employee shall be entitled to unpaid leave to sit for the examinations. Days of leave shall be based on the actual number of examination days.
The employer may require the employee to submit documents in support of the leave application as well as proof of having taken the examination. The employee must apply for the leave at least 15 days ahead of the examination date. If it is proven that the employee did not take an examination, the employee shall be denied payment for the time. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 115.
An employee is entitled to paid leave of 10 to 15 days to perform Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, including the Eid Al-Adha holiday. This paid leave may be granted only once during an employee’s service with one employer, after at least two consecutive years of work, and if the employee has not performed Hajj before. The employer may determine the number of employees who are given this leave annually in accordance with work needs. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 114.
An employee is entitled to 5 working days’ paid leave for marriage. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 113.