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Saudi ministry says 10-week maternity leave in private sector

The Saudi Labor Ministry has defended private sector employees’ right to maternity leave by saying any woman who works in the private sector

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The Saudi Labor Ministry has defended private sector employees’ right to maternity leave by saying any woman who works in the private sector should receive a maternity leave of four weeks prior to her due delivery date and six weeks following the delivery.

The entire period of maternity leave should be fully paid if the employee has been working with the same employer for three years.

An official source at the ministry told Al-Madina daily that employers are required to pay female employees half their salaries during the 10-week maternity leave if they have been employed for a minimum of 12 months. Salaries are due before employees take their maternity leave.

“Employers do not have to give their female employees paid annual vacation if an employee availed of maternity leave with full salary. Employees who only received half salaries during maternity leave should get the due half salaries during annual vacation,” he said.

The source further said the likely due date should be specified by the firm’s doctor or according to a medical certificate attested by a health authority. A woman should not be forced to work during the six weeks following delivery.

Reports show that there has been a considerable increase in the number of Saudi women employed in the private sector over the past three years. In 2010, there were 55,618 women employees in the private sector and in 2011 that number jumped to 99,486 while this number more than doubled in 2012 to reach 215,840.

There has also been an increase in the number of investment projects licensed to women. They reached 654 projects in 2012. Women made up 2.7 percent of the total private sector workforce in both 2010 and 2011 but that number jumped to 11.6 percent in 2012.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014.