New regulations: Mandatory insurance for Saudi domestic workers

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Saudi Arabia rolls out mandatory insurance requirements for domestic workers.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Feb 1: In a move aimed at regulating the labor market, Saudi Arabia has enforced mandatory insurance on contracts for new domestic workers, effective Thursday. The Ministry of Human Resources disclosed that this service would apply to the initial two years of domestic labor contracts, becoming optional for employers after this period.

The newly introduced insurance service ensures compensation for both domestic workers and employers in specific cases. Employers are entitled to compensation in scenarios such as the employee’s absence, escape, death, or incapacitation due to debilitating diseases. Simultaneously, the service facilitated through a government platform is designed to safeguard domestic workers’ rights, providing compensation for complete or partial infirmities resulting from accidents or instances where employers fail to pay wages and other financial entitlements due to death or incapability.

Saudi labor authorities have been actively working to regulate the domestic labor market, launching the Musaned platform last year. This platform, overseen by the Ministry of Human Resources, serves as an official recruitment platform, facilitating various services, including visa issuance, recruitment requests, and the contractual relationship between employers and workers.

Last October, Saudi Arabia introduced new regulations for employing domestic workers, stipulating a minimum age of 21 years for workers. These regulations, published in the Official Gazette, Umm Al Qura, aim to uphold contractual rights, specifying that all dates in the worker’s contract are calculated according to the Gregorian calendar. The rules stress that dues owed to the worker or their heirs are considered first-degree debts.

Contractual provisions between employers and workers are regulated by a contract shaped by mandatory rules set by the ministry, with the Arabic text being the authorized version, translated into the worker’s official language. The contract should have a fixed duration, considered renewable for one year if not specified otherwise.

The new rules set the domestic worker’s daily working hours at 10, with a weekly paid successive 24-hour rest period. Employers are explicitly prohibited from withholding the domestic worker’s passport, personal documents, or belongings. The category of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia encompasses various roles such as housekeepers, drivers, housemaids, cleaners, cooks, guards, farmers, live-in nurses, tutors, and nannies.

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