Economists call for 40-hour work week

JEDDAH: Arab News

Published — Sunday 23 June 2013

Last update 28 June 2013 7:34 pm

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Economists have criticized the Shoura Council’s decision to postpone the approval of a proposed labor law, which calls for a two-day weekend and 40 hours of work per week.
According to Salim Ba’ajaja, an economist, the ministry is hesitant to implement the law due to the opposition of local businessmen who have cited grave concerns that a two-day weekend would lead to a rise in prices. In addition, businessmen have said that some 600,000 Saudi workers, employed in the last 18 months would face losing their jobs as a result of the implementation of such a decision.
The economist noted that the council’s approval to reduce weekly hours from 48 to 45 has kept working hours unchanged, as without the mechanism of enforcement, private sector establishments will force employees to work eight hours, six days a week, or enforce a nine-hour shift for five days a week.
“It is necessary to implement a 40-hour week; western countries apply 35-hour week,” Ba’ajaja added.
Meanwhile, economist Abdallah Al Malgouth said the labor market “is not governed by the Ministry of Labor’s rules.”
He pointed out that certain retail stores make their employees work for more than 12 hours a day and at times without weekly days off. In such work environments, an employee would be given a half-a-day every 15 days, he said, adding that reducing working hours will increase productivity, and improve the psychological states of employees.

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