Employment in Saudi Arabia is regulated by the Labor Law, the Social Insurance Law, and provisions of Shari’a (Islamic law).
Hours & Pay Regulations
No employee shall be asked to work more than 48 hours a week and the daily work hours shall not exceed 8 hours.
In an organization where work is done in shifts, an employer may increase the number of working hours as long as the average hours in a 3 week period is not more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week. The employees must not work more than 12 hours per day including overtime.
During the month of Ramadan, the working hours for Muslim employees are reduced to a maximum of 6 hours per day or 36 hours per week. Working hours may be reduced to 7 hours per day for employees in certain hazardous industries or jobs.
In some particular industries and jobs where the employee does not work continuously, the work hours can be increased to 9 hours a day, not including overtime. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 98-105 (Arabic).
An employer may not comply with the provisions of working hours, breaks, and weekly rest, in the following cases: during annual inventories, budgets, liquidation, account closing, sales, however, the number of days of work shall not exceed 30 days a year. An employer also may not follow the provisions of working hours, breaks, and weekly rest if the work is intended to avoid hazardous accidents, avoid loss of perishable material, if the work curtails unusual work pressure, and during festive periods specified by the government authorities.
In the above cases, the actual working hours shall not exceed 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week. The maximum overtime hours allowed per year shall be determined by a decision of the Minister. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 106 (Arabic).
An employer shall maintain at the workplace records, statements, and files the nature and contents of which shall be specified in the regulations. He shall display at a prominent location at the workplace a schedule of working hours, breaks, weekly rest days, and time of start and end of each shift when operating in shifts. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 17.
There is no provision for night work for regular employees.
Women may not work at night for a ‘period of at least 11 consecutive hours’ except in certain enumerated instances, such as in the case of force majeure or emergency, or if the work takes place in a shop that sells women’s supplies. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts.150.
All employees have the right to an unpaid break in work of no less than 30 minutes every day for lunch and prayer provided that an employee shall not remain at the workplace for more than eleven hours a day. Employees shall not work more than 5 continuous hours without a break. Working hours calculations do not include breaks. The employer cannot require the employee to remain at the workplace during such breaks. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 98-105 (Arabic).
Friday is the weekly rest day for all employees. The weekly rest day shall be fully paid and shall not be less than 24 consecutive hours. After proper notification to the government, the employer may replace this rest day for some employees with any other day of the week. Additional wages or payments may not be substituted for a weekly rest day.
In jobs where the nature of work and operational conditions require continuous operation, weekly rest periods may be consolidated for up to 8 weeks if the employer and the employee agree, subject to government authorities’ approval.
All work performed on a rest day is considered to be overtime and is payable at a premium rate of 150% of the normal wage. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2015, arts. 98-105 (Arabic).
Employees are entitled to 9 paid holidays annually, the dates of some of which vary year to year:
- Eid Al-Fitr: (date varies), lasts 10 days, but most employers observe only 3 day
- Sept. 23: Saudi National Day
- Eid Al-Adha (date varies), lasts 10 days, but most employers observe only 5 days
If National Day falls on a weekend, a day in lieu is granted either on a day preceding or following the weekend.
Pay for Work on Public Holiday
All work performed on Public Holiday is considered to be overtime and is payable at a premium rate of 150% of the normal wage.
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 thirty 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. 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).
A female employee is entitled to paid maternity leave for the 4 weeks immediately preceding the expected date of delivery and for 6 weeks after delivery. Female employees shall not work in the immediate 6 weeks post-delivery.
A female employee who gives birth to a sick or special needs child is entitled to an additional month of paid maternity leave and may extend that by an additional unpaid month up to a maximum of 18 weeks of paid and unpaid leave.
An employee who has taken paid maternity leave is not entitled to wages for the annual leave in the same year. If she has taken maternity leave at half of her wages, in such case, she will be entitled to half of the wages for annual leave in the same year.
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.
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 parents or children. Female Muslim employees whose spouse dies are entitled to 4 months and 10 days of compassionate leave. Non-Muslim female employees receive 15 days of compassionate leave. Male employees whose spouse dies are entitled to 5 days of compassionate leave. 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 by the two parties. 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 the 60 days, and three-quarters of the wages owed to him/her for the next ten (10) months of treatment and recovery. 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 days’ paid leave for marriage. Labor Law, Royal Decree No. M/46, 2005, arts. 113.
Last updated on: March 9th, 2021