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Health and Safety in the Work Environment

Health and Safety in the Work Environment

 

Provisions related to worker safety and health care

Saudi Labor Law, in its eighth chapter, clarifies the provisions related to workers safety, protection, and health and social care.

 

Rights and duties of Worker from a human rights perspective

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Worker has rights and duties that have been taken into account by Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) as a legislator and regulator of the labor market, and these rights and duties are consistent with human rights in the Kingdom, which are represented by Human Rights Commission (HRC). The following is an overview of the employee's rights and duties:

 

Wage

  • With regard to wages, Saudi Labor Law requires the following:
  • Worker's wages shall be paid in the official currency of the country.
  • Worker's wages shall be paid in working hours and workplace.
  • Worker's wages entitlement dates must be adhered to according to the specified and agreed upon dates.
  • Worker's wages must be paid through the approved banks in the Kingdom.
  • The percentage of the amounts deducted may not exceed half of Worker's due wage, unless it is proven to the Labor Disputes Settlement Authority that the deduction is possible to exceed that percentage.
  • Employer shall pay Worker an additional wage for overtime equal to the hourly wage plus 50% of his/her basic wage.

 

Cases in which sums may be deducted from Worker’s wages without his/her written consent:

Refund of Employer loans provided that the deduction from Worker does not exceed 10% of his/her wages.

  • Social insurance contributions.
  • Worker's contributions to the Saving Fund and loans payable thereto.
  • Installments for any project undertaken by Employer, such as building housing with the intention of owning the same to Workers or any other advantage.
  • Fines imposed on Worker due to the violations committed by him/her, as well as the sums deducted from him/her in return for what he/she destroyed.
  • Repayment of a debt in implementation of any judgment, provided that the monthly deduction for the same does not exceed a quarter of the wage, unless the judgment stipulates otherwise.
  • If Worker is arrested by the specialized agencies in cases related to the work or because of it, Employer shall continue to pay 50% of the wage to Worker until his/her case is decided, provided that the period of arrest does not exceed 180 days. If Worker is acquitted, the amount deducted from his/her wages shall be returned, but if the judgment is concluded by convicting Worker, what was previously paid to him/her shall not be recovered unless the judgment stipulates otherwise.

 

Working Hours & Breaks

With regard to working hours and breaks, Labor Law has specified the following:

  • Worker may not work for more than eight hours per day or more than forty-eight hours per week, taking into account the reduction of working hours in the month of Ramadan; thus the working hours shall not exceed six hours per day or thirty-six hours per week.
  • No worker shall work for more than five consecutive hours without a break, period for prayer and food, thus, the break shall not be less than half an hour at a time during the total working hours, and so that Worker shall not remain in the workplace for more than twelve hours per day.
  • Worker shall not be under the authority of Employer during breaks.
  • As for the weekend, Friday shall be the weekend for all Workers, and this day can be replaced for some types of work with any day of the week after informing the competent labor office.

 

Vacations

With regard to vacations, Labor Law specified the following:

  • Worker is entitled to an annual leave for each year of no less than twenty-one days and shall be increased to thirty days if Worker has served Employer for five consecutive years.
  • Leave pay shall be paid in advance.
  • Leave may not be waived in return for cash, and Worker must enjoy it at the time of its entitlement.
  • Employer shall inform Worker of the date of his/her leave thirty days prior to the leave.
  • With the approval of Employer, the leave or part thereof may be postponed to the following year.
  • Worker has the right to receive the leave wages that he/she did not enjoy if he/she leaves the work.
  • Worker has the right to leave three days in the event of the birth of a newborn, and five days on the occasion of his marriage or in the event of the death of his spouse or one of his ascendants and descendants.
  • Worker has the right to leave with full pay for the number of actual exam days to perform exams if he/she is affiliated with an academic institution.
  • Worker may take an unpaid leave with the approval of Employer.
  • Worker shall have the right to obtain a proven sick leave, and Worker is entitled to the full wage of the first thirty days and three quarters of the wage for the next sixty days and without pay for the following thirty days during one year, whether these leaves are continuous or intermittent.
  • Worker may not work for another employer while enjoying the aforementioned leaves.
  • Female Worker shall have the right to maternity leave with full pay for a period of ten weeks, shall be distributed upon her discretion, beginning with a maximum of four weeks before the likely date of confinement.
  • Under no circumstances may Female Worker be employed after childbirth during the six weeks following childbirth.
  • Female Worker shall have the right to extend the maternity leave for a period of one month without pay.
  • Female Worker shall have the right, in the event that she gives birth to a sick child or a PWD and whose health condition requires an accompanying person, to a month-long leave with full pay starting after the end of the maternity leave period, and she has the right to extend the leave for a month without pay.
  • Muslim female worker shall have the right to leave with full pay for a period of no less than four months and ten days in the event of her husband death.
  • Non-Muslim worker shall have the right to leave with full pay for a period of fifteen days in the event of her husband death.

 

End-of-Service Benefits

Labor Law ensures that Worker receives end-of-service benefits at the end of the work relationship, as Employer shall pay Worker benefits for the period of his/her service calculated on the basis of a half-month wage for each of the first five years and a month’s wages for each of the following years for calculating the end-of-service benefits. Worker shall be entitled to end-of-service benefits for parts of the year in proportion to what he/she spent at work, and the last wage shall be taken as the basis for calculating the end-of-service benefits. In the event that the work relationship ends due to Worker resignation, Worker shall be entitled in this case to one third of the end-of-service benefits after a service of no less than two consecutive years and not more than five years, and Worker shall be entitled to two thirds thereof if Worker service period exceeds five consecutive years and has not reached ten years, and Worker is entitled to the full end-of-service benefits if Worker service period has reached ten years or more.

 

Leave Work without Notice

As per Labor Law, Worker shall have the right to leave work without notice, while retaining all his/her statutory rights, in any of the following cases:

  •  If Employer fails to fulfill its essential contractual or statutory obligations towards Worker.
  •  If it is proven that Employer or his representative has deceived Worker at the time of the contract, in relation to the terms and conditions of work.
  •  If Employer assigns Worker, without his/her consent, a work that is fundamentally different from the work agreed upon.
  •  If Employer, a member of his family, or the responsible manager has committed a violent assault or immoral behavior towards Worker or a member of his/her family.
  •  If the treatment of Employer or the responsible manager was characterized by manifestations of cruelty, injustice or humiliation.
  • If there is a serious danger in the workplace that threatens the safety or health of Worker, provided that Employer was aware of its existence, and no measures were taken to indicate its removal.
  •  If Employer or his representative, by his behavior, especially his unfair treatment or violating the terms of the contract, causes Worker to terminate the contract.

 

Duties of Worker

Labor Law defines the most important duties that Worker must abide by, which are:

  •  Adhere to work-related instructions unless they contain anything that violates the provisions of the employment contract, public order or morals, or otherwise exposes them to danger.
  •  Maintain working hours.
  •  Complete the work as required.
  •  Take care of the tools at his/her disposal and maintaining the same, in addition to the property of the facility.
  • Committing to good conduct and behavior, working on the spirit of cooperation between him and his colleagues, obeying his superiors, and being keen on satisfying the clients of the facility within the scope of his competence and within the limits of Labor Law.
  •  Provide assistance in emergencies.
  •  Preserve the technical, industrial and commercial secrets of the facility.
  •  Not to engage in any other work outside the scope of his/her work, whether paid or unpaid.
  •  Not to exploit his/her work in the facility to achieve a personal interest for him/herself or for others at the expense of the facility.
  •  Update his/her data in the facility whenever something new occurs in his/her marital status or place of residence.
  •  Adhere to the instructions, regulations, customs and traditions in force in the country.
  •  Not to use the facility's tools and equipment for private purposes.

 

Professional Code of Ethics

MHRSD has issued Professional Code of Ethics Guide, to help companies and institutions prepare and formulate principles and rules of professional ethics to create a positive, transparent, fair, competitive work environment free from all kinds of corruption.

 

Objectives of Professional

This Guide aims to set rules of conduct and professional ethics that help enhance trust between the parties to the labor relationship and create a more attractive work environment that leads to raising professional efficiency and ensuring job security for Worker and the proper functioning of the work. This Guide contains several ethical principles that must be applied by the parties to the labor relationship. Further, this Guide constitutes a reference tool that outlines the basic rules that guide the parties to the labor relationship on how to deal with each other, such as fairness, equality, non-discrimination, public appearance, honesty, honesty, loyalty, non-exploitation of position, work environment, public morals, behavior and the promotion of teamwork.

 

Worker Behaviors & Ethics

Performing job duties and tasks in good faith, responsibility, efficiency and professional accuracy, within a reasonable period of time during working hours, being familiar with work laws and policies, following and implementing goals without any neglect, and constantly striving to improve and develop performance and professional capabilities, and keenness to devote official times to carrying out job tasks and not doing any other activities. Worker may not, without the written consent of Employer, delegate other colleagues to perform his/her job duties and tasks. Worker shall refrain from any acts that violate public morals and good behavior or any behavior or practices that are inconsistent with Islamic teachings, and not offend or incite against the religious beliefs of others inside and outside the workplace.


Worker must cooperate and facilitate the investigation and inspection procedures carried out by the competent agencies in accordance with Labor Laws, maintain technical, commercial and industrial secrets of the materials he produces or that he directly or indirectly contributed to producing, in addition to all professional secrets related to the work or facility, the disclosure of which would harm the interest of Employer, take adequate care for the machinery, tools, supplies and raw materials owned by Employer placed at his disposal or in his custody, and to return to Employer the non-consumable materials.

 

Employer Behaviors & Ethics

Treating workers fairly and equitably without any discrimination, following the principle of equality in an impartial manner regardless of the race, color or religion of any Worker, evaluating Worker in everything related to his/her career path on the basis of merit, competitive merit and equal opportunities, working on developing his/her capabilities and providing appropriate training opportunities to improve his/her path; In addition, giving opportunities for discussion and debate, freedom of opinion and expression within the framework of work, ensuring his/her right to complain about any wrong decision taken against him/her, encouraging his/her spirit of initiative and innovation, providing an environment that stimulates innovation, rewarding outstanding workers in a manner commensurate with their innovations and work, developing their capabilities and helping them to improve the performance.

Employer may not, without Worker's permission, exploit any personal information, sources or resources of Worker.

 

Shared Ethics and Principles

Transparency

Creating a suitable climate for the success of any facility to enable Employees to ask questions, reveal the things on their minds, and express their opinions without fear of punishment, which leads to finding better ways of working mechanisms, solving problems and saving money.

Listening

Creating channels of communication between Worker and Employer to create a sound work environment that makes the participation of the parties to the labor relationship positive for both parties.

Sharing, Teamwork, and Collaboration

Working in a team spirit, which leads to the success of the work entrusted to team members, and Worker sharing of his/her experiences and knowledge with his/her other colleagues has a great impact in spreading knowledge and developing their skills, which leads them to make the right decisions and this leads to upgrading skills and increasing efficiency through long-term learning and training.

Disclosure & Reporting

Employer shall facilitate the means of disclosing and reporting any violations or important information, whether positive or negative, while ensuring that Worker is not harmed by the same.

While adhering to the requirements of his/her job duties of honoring and respecting the superiors, Worker shall, in the interest of the work, report any irregularities he/she discovers, in accordance with the applicable policies.

 

Conflict of interest

Worker shall avoid any actual or potential conflict of interest suspected by him/her and Worker shall not carry out any of the acts that may benefit him/her personally unless this is directed by Employer. Worker shall not also participate in any process or decision in a way in which he obtains a benefit from the same, and Worker shall notify Employer in writing and promptly in the event of any conflict of interest.

Public Behavior and Morals

The relationship between workers must be based on morals, mutual respect, and the preservation of the customs and traditions of the Saudi society and Islamic teachings. A proper appearance and attention to general hygiene must be maintained. Female Worker must adhere to the Islamic hijab throughout the work period.

Bribery

Workers must be alerted to the offense of taking bribery and violating the regulations, and to abide by Employer’s policies when completing the work without delay or reluctance, and not to engage in any conversations or understandings with customers that may obtain work illegally or in return for an illegal payment of money.

 

Gifts

Giving and accepting gifts is legitimate, but the nature of the relationship between the workers themselves and between them and the clients necessarily require restricting this matter within the limits permitted by the employer’s policy or preventing it among the work community. This affects relationships, which may lead to accusations of obtaining personal benefit at the expense of work.

It is not permissible to accept gifts or donations from suspicious entities or persons who have a bad reputation, or it is suspected that they are involved in or engaging in acts that violate honor and integrity. Dealing with any party or person found guilty of issues affecting integrity or honor shall be stopped. Gifts that negatively affect the interests of the employer, its activity, and the services provided may not be accepted.

 

Collection of Donations
Saudi Laws permit the licensed authorities to collect donations. Consequently, collection of donations spontaneously between workers may expose them to legal accountability, which may result in penalties.

 

Occupational Health and Safety

MHRSD has launched Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. MHRSD conducts inspection visits to ensure that the private sector establishments comply with implementing the Regulations. The objective of the inspection visits is to ensure the compliance of the companies operating in construction projects with the requirements and principles of occupational health and safety, enhance the culture of prevention, and raise the awareness of both employers and workers about the importance of the requirements of occupational health and safety. MHRSD will comply with imposing the penalties as stated in the Labor Law against the violators of occupational health and safety regulations and resolutions. Such regulations and resolutions have stated a number of penalties commensurate with the violations related to occupational health and safety. The fine may amount to (SAR 25,000), and penalties may multiply according to multiplicity of workers. The Regulations aims to raise the awareness about the importance of occupational health and safety in enhancing the work attractiveness through deploying the preventive culture, enhancing the importance of application of occupational health and safety laws, principles and practices, developing national legislation for occupational health and safety, and motivating the employers to create an attractive, sound and healthy work environment. Moreover, the Regulation aims to enhance the role of occupational health and safety management in work locations, and transfer the successful practical experience and practices of occupational health and safety, as well as benefiting from local and international experience to raise the level of occupational health and safety.

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Prohibition of Work under the Direct Sun Exposure at Noon

MHRSD issued a resolution prohibiting workers from working under direct sun exposure, for all private sector establishments from 12 PM to 3 PM. MHRSD is keen on the workers’ health and safety and preventing them from damages resulting from working under direct sun exposure during such period and the negative effects on health such as sunstroke or heat stress. MHRSD calls the employers, upon regulating the working hours, to consider the provisions of the Resolution to contribute to protect the workers’ safety and health from exposure to direct sun risks. The Ministerial Resolution stated: “It is not permissible to assign the worker to work under direct sun exposure from 12 PM to 3 PM during the period between fifteenth of June to the end of the fifteenth of September every year.” The Resolution is not applicable to workers of oil and gas companies or those engaged in emergency maintenance works, provided that the necessary precautions to protect them from sunlight damages shall be taken. Further, the Resolution is not applicable to a number of provinces in certain regions of the Kingdom due to difference in temperature. In some regions, temperature is lower than the levels that require banning from work during the aforementioned hours. MHRSD coordinates with the municipalities to determine the need to apply the resolution in the affiliated regions and provinces as per the climate conditions and prevailing temperature during the prohibition period.

 

Controls for Protection against Behavioral Aggression in the Work Environment

MHRSD has issued a resolution for adopting the Controls for protection against behavioral aggression in the work environment, which aim to maintain the people’s privacy, dignity and freedom.

The Resolution aims to improve and develop the work environment, make it more attractive for those looking for a job, and maintain the rights of workers. The controls were issued in accordance with the Labor Law, its Implementing Regulations, the Saudi Cabinet Resolution on Combating the Harassment Crime, some international conventions and global practices of eliminating violence and harassment in work environment. Besides, they were presented and revised through multiple workshops with specialists from different authorities in private sector.

The Resolution dealt with the definition and scope of the controls of protection against behavioral aggression, general preventive measures to be taken by the establishment, the necessary measures to enable the behavioral aggression investigation committee that the establishment should take to enhance the workers’ protection. Further, the Resolution included many guidelines that may help establishments and workers facilitate the procedures of activating and applying the provisions of this Resolution.

Behavioral aggression (or abuse) shall mean all practices of abuse by one party against another, including all forms of exploitation, threat, harassment, extortion, temptation, quarrels, insults, disrespect or insinuation that may offend modesty or intent to be alone with the opposite gender or any other type of discrimination types, physically, verbally, or otherwise, whether gender, gender type, or otherwise, and aim, lead, or are likely to lead to physical, psychological, sexual, or economic harm to the other party.

The provisions of the Resolution also include all behavioral aggressions among the workers during or because of work, whether during or beyond the official working hours.

 

Protection Against Occupational Hazards and Accidents

An employer shall maintain the firm in a clean and hygienic condition. The employer shall provide lighting, supply potable and washing water and comply with other rules, measures and standards of occupational protection, health and safety in accordance with the Minister’s decision.

An employer shall take the necessary precautions to protect the workers against hazards, occupational diseases, the machinery in use, and shall ensure work safety and protection. The employer shall post in a prominent place in the firm the instructions related to work and workers safety
in Arabic and, when necessary, in any other language that the workers understand. The employer may not charge the workers or deduct from their wages any amounts for the provision of such protection.

An employer shall inform the worker, prior to engaging in the work, of his job hazards and shall require him to use the prescribed protective equipment. The employer shall supply the workers with the appropriate personal gear and train them on their use.

A worker shall use and preserve the personal protective equipment designated for each process and shall carry out the instructions established to protect his health against injuries and diseases. He shall refrain from any action or omission that may lead to failure to implement the instructions, misuse or impair the devices provided to protect the workplace as well as the health and safety of fellow workers.

An employer shall take necessary precautions for protection against fire and provide the technical means to combat it, including safety exits which shall be maintained in working condition at all times. He shall post in a prominent location in the workplace detailed instructions for fire prevention devices.

An employer shall be responsible for emergencies and accidents which may affect persons, other than his workers, who enter the workplaces by virtue of their official duties or with the approval of the employer or his agents, if such emergencies and accidents are due to negligence in taking the technical precautions required by the nature of his work, and the employer shall compensate them for damage and harm sustained in accordance with the general laws.

 

Work Injuries

If a worker sustains a work injury or an occupational disease, the employer shall be required to treat him and assume directly or indirectly all necessary expenses, including hospitalization, medical examinations and tests, radiology, prosthetic devices and transportation expenses to treatment centers.

 

An injury shall be deemed a work injury in accordance with the provisions of the Social Insurance Law. Occupational diseases shall also be considered work injuries and the date of the first medical diagnosis of the disease shall be treated tantamount to the date of injury.

Any relapse or complication arising from an injury shall be deemed an injury and shall be treated as such in terms of aid and treatment.

Occupational diseases shall be determined in accordance with the Occupational Diseases Schedule provided for in the Social Insurance Law. Degree of total or partial disability shall be determined according to the Disability Percentage Guide provided for in the said Law.

In case of temporary disability arising from work injury, the injured party shall be entitled to financial aid equal to his full wage for thirty days, then (75%) of the wage for the entire duration of his treatment.  If one year elapses or it is medically determined that the injured party’s chances of recovery are improbable or that he is not physically fit to work, his injury shall be deemed total disability. The contract shall be terminated and the worker shall be compensated for the injury. The employer may not recover the payments made to the injured worker during that year.

If an injury results in a permanent total disability or death of the injured person, the injured person or his eligible beneficiaries shall be entitled to a compensation equal to his wages for three years, with a minimum of fifty four thousand riyals. If the injury results in a permanent partial disability, the injured person shall be entitled to a compensation equal to the percentage of the estimated disability in accordance with the approved Disability Percentage Guide Schedule multiplied by the amount of compensation for the permanent total disability.

An employer may not be required to comply with the provisions of Articles (133), (137) and (138) of the Labor Law if any of the following is established:

If a worker deliberately injures himself.

If an injury is caused by intentional misconduct on the part of the worker.

If a worker refuses to be examined by a physician or refuses to accept treatment by the employer-designated physician without a valid reason.

Liability of previous employers of a worker suffering from an occupational disease shall be determined in light of the medical report of the attending physician. Previous employers shall be required to pay the compensation provided for in Article (138) of this Law, each in proportion to the period such worker has spent in his service, provided that the industries or occupations they engage in cause the disease the worker suffers from.Procedures for reporting work injuries shall be determined pursuant to a decision by the Minister.

 

Labor Medical and Social Services

An employer shall make available one or more medical aid cabinets, supplied with drugs and other necessities required for first aid. The Regulations shall specify the contents of such cabinets of first aid means, numbers of such means and quantities of drugs and shall also regulate the method of keeping them and the conditions and requirements to be satisfied by first aid provider.

An employer shall assign one or more physicians to provide, at least once a year, a comprehensive medical examination for his workers who are exposed to any of the occupational diseases listed in the Schedules of Occupational Diseases provided for in the Social Insurance Law. The findings of the examination shall be kept in the employer’s records and the workers’ files.

An employer shall provide his workers with preventive and therapeutic health care in accordance with the standards set forth by the Minister, while taking into consideration whatever is provided for by the Cooperative Health Insurance Law.

An employer may, subject to the Minister’s approval, set up a saving fund provided that the workers’ contribution is optional. The provisions regulating the operations of such funds shall be made public.

An employer shall provide at his own expense all or some of the following, as may be determined by the Minister, to those who work in remote locations:

Stores for selling food, clothing and other necessities at moderate prices in places where such stores are not available.

Suitable recreational and educational services and sports facilities annexed to the workplaces.

Necessary medical arrangements to protect the workers’ health and provide comprehensive treatment for their families. (Family shall mean spouse, children and parents residing with the worker).

Schools for the workers’ children in the absence of sufficient schools in the area.

Mosques or prayer areas at the workplaces.

Literacy programs for the workers.

The Regulations shall specify the remote locations.

An employer operating in remote locations, mines, quarries and oil exploration centers shall provide his workers with accommodation, camps and meals. The Minister shall determine, pursuant to his decision, conditions and specifications of the accommodations and camps as well as charges for the accommodations, number of meals, quantities and kinds of food and related conditions, cost of meals to the worker and any other requirements for the workers’ health.

An employer shall provide means for transporting his workers from their place of residence or from a certain gathering point to places of work and bring them back daily, if places of work are not served by regular means of transportation at times compatible with the working hours.

 

General Department of Work Environment Development

The Department will develop laws, regulations, practices and regulatory procedures for occupational health and safety, raise the awareness, and prepare studies and reports, in addition to supervision and follow up of the application of laws, regulations and procedures to create an attractive work environment in private sector establishments.

 

Objectives of General Department of Work Environment Development

 

Develop mechanisms, regulations and laws to create an attractive and safe work environment in line with the best international criteria and practices

Develop and apply the technical criteria for different practices in occupational health and safety, and enhance the development of an effective inspection system

Raise the awareness and educate individuals about laws, regulations and instructions related to work environment and occupational health and safety

Motivate and follow up the establishments to comply with the requirements of work environment to create an attractive work environment

Contribute to protecting the workers against negative effects within the work environment

 

Related Programs and Initiatives

National Occupational Health and Safety Program

Work Environment Regulation and Development Initiative

Unified Regulations of Work Environment in Private Sector Establishments

 

 

 

 

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