Time ‘ripe for job market reforms’

Updated 18 October 2015

Time ‘ripe for job market reforms’

RIYADH: Thirty-eight new amendments to the labor law approved by the Council of Ministers will spur the Saudi labor market by providing guarantees to the private sector employees and employers and ensuring that their rights are protected, said Deputy Labor Minister Ahmed Al-Humaidan said.
“The amendments are the result of years of studies and include many aspects that concern citizens, the market, employers and the employees,” he said.
“It is the appropriate time to restructure the labor market which hasn’t been revamped in this manner for more than 10 years,” he said.
The new regulations focus on organizing and improving the performance of the labor market and will help in managing the relationship between the employers and the employees, as well as provide more flexibility, he said.
Al-Humaidan unveiled the new amendments at a press conference in Riyadh which will take effect next week.
The amendments include “changes to support nationalization; providing more benefits to compliant companies; training of Saudi nationals; and providing an appropriate work environment for women employees.”
They also include regulations for labor contracts to protect the rights of both parties. A list of regulations, which includes comprehensive rules for organizing work relationship as well as provisions relating to offenses and disciplinary actions are part of the amendments.
The regulations aim to ensure the unification of workers’ rights in the Kingdom and the labor market.
The employer may include additional terms and conditions to the work agreement, but those must be consistent with the provisions of the regulations.
The amendments also include a standard unified work contract, which includes the name of the employer and location, name and nationality of the employee, an address of residence, agreed salary with benefits and allowances, the period of the work contract and other provisions compliant with the regulations.
The new amendments provide the employee and the employer a chance to prove their professional competency by extending the probation period to not more than 180 days, based on a written agreement. An employee’s probation can only be extended or re-implemented for the same employer should the job title change or the employee spends at least six months with another employer.
The fixed contract period has been extended to between three and four years, and is then converted to an unspecified period contract should the contract be renewed three times consecutively, or if the original contract exceeds four years. The amendments also include provisions that protect workers from unjust firing and provide more flexibility for movement within the market.
“The new amendments protect workers while providing new job opportunities and are in line with labor market needs,” said Al-Humaidan.
“The ministry reserves the right to prevent the renewal of any work permits if the employer violates nationalization requirements.”
Training for number of Saudi nationals has also been increased. An employer with 50 or more employees must train at least 12 percent of the total number of employees annually, rather than 6 percent.
This includes Saudis who are completing their studies, if the employer is covering the cost of education. In turn, the trainee must repay the cost of training to the employer if he or she refuses or doesn’t work after the training period.


Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

Updated 17 October 2019

Tolerance key to promoting inclusive society: EU envoy

  • Intellectuals, diplomats discuss challenge of blending cultures, faiths and values

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The European envoy to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday called for more tolerance and respect to help bring diverse societies closer together.

Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.

Organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), the event gathered together top intellectuals, diplomats and scholars to debate the issues of tolerance, forgiveness and acceptance of others.

Opening the lecture at the King Faisal Foundation building in Riyadh, d’Urso spoke about tolerance and how it was core to the transformation of societies, especially in Europe which had become more diverse.

“Today’s European society is a mixture of cultures, faiths, values, ideas, and habits. The challenge is to make sure our society is more inclusive, enhance mutual understanding and promote tolerance and respect,” the envoy said.

He pointed to the UN’s blossoming partnership with the KFCRIS and the importance of the lecture as key building blocks in the process of bridging cultural and religious gaps between societies.

“I think there are few more teams that are exchanging on the Saudi and European perspectives of religious tolerance and diversity. All of us know that the KFCRIS builds from the legacy of the late King Faisal and has been a pillar in promoting Islam,” d’Urso added.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso, head of the EU delegation to the Kingdom, made his appeal as he welcomed attendees to a high-profile lecture to discuss Saudi and European perspectives on religious tolerance and diversity.
  • Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.
  • The director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

He noted that in Europe there were many people of faith that had respect for coexistence. 

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), told delegates that when he talked about tolerance in Islam, he also meant tolerance in Saudi Arabia as a state that applied and was governed by Shariah law.

He said a state that respected others, human existence and brotherhood could not exist “unless there is respect for diversity and differences as a universal norm that no one can collide.”

According to Al-Issa, the Charter of Madinah (regarded as the first Islamic state constitution) was considered one of the best achievements of civil legislation in human history. “This document was held by the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with the Jews and represented binding legislation for Muslims toward religious minorities.”

The MWL chief noted that the document included the protection of civil and religious rights. “The document cannot be absorbed by extremism, it is clear. These rights and freedoms have been preserved by this legislation. And the Prophet Muhammad coexisted with everyone and understood these differences and diversity.”

In his speech, Al-Issa explained how the Qur’an gave Jews and Christians a special name to celebrate their religious origins where they were called “people of the book,” in reference to the Torah and the Gospel. The history of Christians and Jews was also never omitted.

Addressing the event, director of the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Dr. Michael Privot, who converted to Islam 26 years ago, spoke about how the EU was characterized by increasing diversity, including religious and philosophical beliefs, even from the Muslim perspective.

“We encounter such a diversity of ways of being Muslim from a theoretical, cultural, philosophical, ideological point of view. Any single Muslim group or community is represented somewhere in Europe and this situation puts European Muslims in a very unique environment which is different from any other Islamic majority society in the world,” said Privot.

He pointed out that for the first time in history Muslim groups from Uzbekistan and Senegal were living together and trying to become a community in European societies.

“Societies, which have completely liberalized the market of religions, believe all faiths are accepted,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, an MWL forum in Makkah recommended that Islamic discourse should adhere to the principles of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the Muslims’ uppermost legislative sources, which are also known as the Two Divine Revelations.

The forum, titled “The Service of the Two Revelations,” called upon concerned authorities in the Muslim world to regulate Islamic fatwas in a way that prevented extremism and stopped producing any misguided explanations of the divinely revealed texts.

The participants also encouraged the use of modern technology, especially social media, to better serve the Qur’an and Sunnah to help link Muslim youths with the two revelations.

In addition, the gathering proposed establishing platforms for producing software and smart apps related to the Qur’an and Sunnah and the launch of an international service award under the umbrella of the MWL.

Al-Issa added that the MWL had staged a number of Qur’an memorization programs in 78 countries and said there were now 68 colleges and institutes where 7,500 students were studying the Qur’an.

“Some 61,275 Qur’an readers have graduated from these institutes, with 5,055 reciters having obtained authentic reading certificates. The IOQAS (International Organization of Qitab and Sunnah) has also carried out 193 training courses and provided nearly 3,000 scholarships,” he said.