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Factories must employ minimum of 10 women

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor has made it obligatory upon factory owners to employ a minimum of 10 women in all phases of the production line while urging them to absorb as many females as possible.
The new amendments have also defined the working hours for women, that is between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. in factories and private sector establishments, a source in the ministry was quoted as saying by local media on Saturday.
Nashwa Taher, a member of the Council of the Board for Radwa Saudi Company for Poultry Production, said, “We should support and encourage women to work in the industrial sector because it is a good way to decrease unemployment among women, especially in remote villages and areas.”
She said the ministry is moving toward employing women in factories, which will contribute to solving the problem of female unemployment and allow the nation to benefit from qualified national cadre.
Abdulaziz bin Sharaf Bukhari, executive president of human resources at Pure Food Company (Saudi AFCO), said women require special working conditions. Some factories demand a lot of physical work, which can’t be endured by women in most cases.”
Mona Ahmad, a worker, supported the ministry’s decision and expressed the hope that jobs would be made available for women in factories because of less job opportunities in the private sector. She also called for health insurance for employees and transport facility.
Eman Al-Salami, another worker, said there are many women who are looking for jobs, but most companies require experience and high qualifications. “If women were allowed to work in factories, it will contribute to decreasing the number of unemployed women in the Kingdom.”
Abdulrahman Al-Sultan, economist and writer, said the problem in employing women is that the rate of unemployment does not actually reflect the true volume of unemployment. “There are millions of female graduates seeking jobs, and opening the door for them to work in factories will contribute to solving this problem.”
The dependence on expatriate labor in the private sector has contributed to increasing unemployment among Saudis, he said, adding that the industrial sector should absorb more women and some of the Kingdom’s factories could even be run by women.
Khalid Aba Khalil, director-general of information in the ministry, was quoted as saying that the number of working women in the industrial sector exceeds 30,000. This number is rising as factories are preparing more suitable environments for women to work, he said.
He said the ministry has banned women from working in 24 types of jobs to maintain their safety and security.
Khalil said business owners are required to provide a special prayer and rest area for women, in addition to providing safe and modest clothing during work. “If women work in offices, they should work in special departments and owners should make the necessary arrangements to avoid gender mixing. Women should only be employed for eight hours if the single day measure was applied, or less than 48 hours a week if the weekly measure is applied.”
The working hours should be reduced during Ramadan to six hours a day or 36 hours a week, he said. The contractual relationship with the worker should be documented and must include all rights and stipends, including medical insurance for the woman worker and her dependents, in addition to any other rights stipulated in the rules and regulations, he added.

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