All Sorts of Things

Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.

Reporting the Obvious: Saudis Like to Work Fewer Hours for High Pay

Saudi citizens are more likely to apply for private sector jobs if private sector companies shorten their working hours. According to Arab News, the Saudi Ministry of Labor and King Abdul Aziz National Dialogue reported this mind blowing and totally surprising fact after conducting a study in which they spoke to over 3,600 Saudi citizens across the country. Bear in mind that Saudi law forbids private sector companies from making Saudi citizens work more than 48 hours a week (this goes down to 36 hours during Ramadan), and that Saudi culture allows for a generous lunch schedule and five prayer breaks (30 minutes each) per day. So, counting three prayers breaks and an hour for lunch, under the current regulation, Saudi citizens in private sector companies cannot work more than 45.5 hours a week. Clearly, this is more hardship than the Saudi citizens can bear.

While discussing work hours up and down the Red Sea coast, surveyors did not ask Saudi citizens whether they would be willing to take a salary cut for the lower work hours. This may seem like an obvious point to most people (you work less, you get paid less) but this isn’t something Saudi citizens want to hear. I can understand their hesitation – if the government was begging me to go to work while giving me stipends for just being born to Saudi citizens and subsidizing everything under the sun, I would also consider myself Allah’s gift to the workforce and demand high salaries for low work hours.

Not that life is all roses, what the Saudi workforce – which has grown over 39 percent annually – does complain about is the lack of appropriate jobs in the Kingdom. Most citizens want to work in management positions and blame the foreign work force for taking their jobs; incidentally, I don’t recall the foreign work force complaining about working 48 hours a week or about low pay for 48 hour work weeks or about anything other than getting paid for their work – Saudi employers are notorious for holding on to salaries and passports.

Employment remains a serious problem in the Kingdom and the government should be commended for trying to get its citizens to work for a living. However, imposing conditions such as fewer work hours, high stipends and subsidies, and requiring appropriate jobs for its citizens coddles an already lazy work force, and defeats the government’s good intentions before those intentions becomes anything more than a gleam in a sheik’s eye.

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This entry was posted on September 7, 2012 by in International Affairs and tagged , , , .


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