Economists: Business fear of a five-day week unfounded

Economists: Business fear of a five-day week unfounded
Updated 04 September 2012

Economists: Business fear of a five-day week unfounded

Economists: Business fear of a five-day week unfounded

JEDDAH: Economists are unanimous that the plan to introduce a five-day workweek will increase the overall productivity of the private sector, while reducing the number of unemployed Saudis.
“A two-day weekend in the private sector will help increase worker’s productivity because they will be more relaxed mentally after two days of rest. It will add to the national economy without any additional cost.
This is a fact realized by advanced countries ahead of us and made them adopt a five-day workweek. Most of the leading private companies in the Kingdom also give their employees two days off a week,” Chairman of the Arasco Company Abdullah Al-Rabeean said in an article in Al-Eqtisadiah daily newspaper.
The government sector and a number of private companies already have a five-day week.
Regarding the fear of some private companies about the two-day weekend, Al-Rabeean said that it is because people fear anything new when they do not know about the positive results it will produce.
He demanded those who opposed the move to study the matter from a comprehensive economic perspective.
He added that the move would also be a catalyst for the domestic tourism industry, as families would be inclined to spend their weekend at tourist centers in the country. In turn, this would increase the revenue from tourism.
It would also help to view work in terms of hours instead of days.
He also observed that shop owners, who compel their workers to work longer than permitted by the Labor Ministry, are most afraid of the increase in weekly days off.
He hoped that a five-day week would help get rid of the morning and evening work pattern.
Notable economist Abdul Wahab Abu Dahish also believes that a five-day week in the private sector would revitalize the workers and enable them to work more efficiently.
“The move is another proof of the ministry’s determination to make the sector more attractive to Saudi workers just like the public sector, particularly large and small retail companies,” he said.
Longer work hours are a factor that discourages Saudis to work in the retail sector.
“I believe that the proposed two-day weekend will regulate the private employment market in the long and short term and will not raise the cost of production by 15 percent as some people fear. On the other hand, it will only reduce the cost of electricity and many other office expenses.
However, he added that the companies that required two shifts by the nature of their work could have special arrangements with their workers.
He denied that the five-day week would adversely affect the salary structure of workers based on the 46-hour week. The hours lost because of the second day off would be added to the five days at the rate of one to 1.5 hours per day, he said.