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Midday work ban implemented in Saudi Arabia
June 16, 2014, 8:30 am

Zero-tolerance policy pledged against non-complying employers

Saudi Arabia’s labour ministry started today the implementation of a ban on outdoor work from noon until 3pm.

Thousands of workers, mainly in the construction sector, will benefit from the excessive heat exposure ban scheduled to last until September 15.

This year marks an extension by one month of the midday ban after it had been implemented throughout July and August earlier.

All workers will be covered by the three-month ban, except those in the oil and gas sector and in emergency maintenance, the ministry said. However, adequate measures should be taken to ensure the highest protection from the scorching heat, it added.

The ministry said that the ban aimed to protect workers and ensure their safety by avoiding having to work under the scorching sun and difficult weather conditions.

A zero-tolerance policy will be strictly followed to make sure all employers comply with the regulations and ban, the ministry said.

Violators will face fines of up to 10,000 riyals (Dh979.31) for each violation and measures could include the revocation of the operation licence, it said.

A hotline has been set up to receive complaints and an inspection agency will follow through for appropriate action.

According to the labour ministry figures, 280 companies were reported last year for failing to comply with the ban.

Around nine million foreigners work in Saudi Arabia, mostly Asians working mainly in the construction and service sectors.

They constitute around one third of the total population.

The local authorities have recently launched a programme to help Saudis integrate the labour market and some jobs have been allocated exclusively for Saudi women, mainly in lingerie shops.

The plan to help confront local unemployment and reduce reliance on foreigners has been implemented steadily despite stiff resistance from conservative forces opposed to women taking up jobs in shops and mall centres.

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