Saudi Arabia has given the green light to cut employee wages and working hours with private sector companies that have been affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic, local media reported.
However, they will only be able to do so with the consent of employees, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said, adding that reduced wages must accurately reflect the number of hours worked.
The director of Human Resources Affairs said, “Workers can report any violations through the ministry’s website, channels and social media platforms.”
In addition, employers who have benefited from state subsidies, such as the SR 9 billion funds allocated last week to pay Saudi workers as compensation, will not be able to terminate employment contracts, while employees retain the right to do so.
The Ministry’s goal was to protect employees from dismissal or loss of contractual benefits during the pandemic, adding that it would continue to control the labor market, reduce the economic effects of the outbreak of the virus on the private sector and protect the interests of both parties in the relationship.
Saudi legal counsel Dimah Talal Al-Sharif said that amending the contractual relationship between employer and employee in this way was appropriate under the legal concept known as “force majeure” applied to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The ministerial decision aims to limit any attempt to tamper with people’s rights as employees, and to define the limits that both parties must agree on first, while also reflecting the reality,” Al-Sharif said.