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Two-day weekly off ‘not practical for private sector’

JEDDAH: A plan to introduce a five-day week for private sector employees is being opposed by some senior officials in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), according to a report.
The JCCI officials claim that production costs could increase if private sector employees are also granted two-day weekend holidays (Thursday and Friday) like government staff, Al-Eqtisadiah reported.
A Labor Ministry official told the newspaper that a crucial meeting would be held next month to determine daily working hours and weekly holidays for private sector employees.
He said the representatives from the concerned government departments, companies and the Ministry of Labor would take part in the talks.
“A two-day weekly off for employees in private enterprises will only lead to higher production costs, especially for the industrial sector, at a time when we are seeking to lower costs to remain competitive,” said Mazen Batterjee, deputy chairman of the JCCI.
He said private sector employees who work on Thursdays would have to be paid overtime under the two-day off plan. This will jack up production costs and raise consumer prices, he said.
Batterjee also warned that the reduction of daily working hours and a two-day weekly holidays would raise the cost of manpower by at least 15 percent. This would be adversely reflected on private sector output.
“Private firms, especially the industrial and the service sectors, will pay a heavy price if the proposal is implemented,” he said.
Abdul Aziz Al-Suraie, chairman of the industrial committee in the JCCI, also rejected the idea. The proposal will increase production costs and will in turn raise consumer prices, he warned.
A number of economists, however, indicated that the five-day week would increase staff performance.
They say that the performance of workers who take a two-day break is 30 percent higher than those who toil for six days in a week.

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