Investors struggle to retain female Saudi staff in lingerie shops

The Ministry of Labor's mandatory requirement that fashion and lingerie shops should only employ Saudi females has forced many women accessory shops to close

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The Ministry of Labor's mandatory requirement that fashion and lingerie shops should be employing only Saudi females has forced several women accessory shops to wind up their business.

According to investors, more than 40 percent of such shops have been forced to close because they have not been able to meet the ministry's regulations.

Businessmen claim that it was still difficult to employ Saudi women, especially with many of them leaving their jobs abruptly without providing any reason.

In some cases, female employees abstain from work for days and weeks together, they claim, Al-Eqtisadiah reported on Wednesday.

The owners have called on the Ministry of Labor to intervene and set contracts with conditions that prohibit employees from leaving their jobs abruptly.

A source at the Ministry of Labor confirmed that the ministry is committed to ensure that investors are able to meet the special conditions required for employing women.

He noted that the ministry is still searching for ideal ways to provide a work environment that women need on the job.

“The reason why women leave their jobs at shops, according to what the ministry recorded in some shopping centers in Riyadh and Jeddah, is the lack of resting areas designated for women only,” they said.

“In addition, sometimes there are no women only restrooms, which forces the employees to use the shopping center’s restrooms. These conditions are not very convenient.”

According to the source, the ministry is currently working with shopping center owners and investors to find options to deal with challenges women face at work.

In addition, the ministry is also conducting field trips to investigate factors that stand in the way of employing women.

The head of the garments committee at Jeddah Municipality, Mohammed Al-Shihri, said that employing women in shops is a positive experience that provided many opportunities for women in the job market.

He explained that he waited long for that decision, but is disappointed that implementing it poses challenges, especially in light of the women’s lack of commitment to the job.
Al-Shihri noted that 80 percent of women leave their jobs in the industry after a short period of time.

He urged the Ministry of Labor to create a contract that obliges women to fulfill the employment period before leaving or resigning.

“Employing Saudi women costs a lot more than employing foreigners,” he said. “This puts a lot of pressure on organizations in the industry since many business owners are young entrepreneurs and cannot afford to have employees with SR4,000 salaries and more.”

Owners of shopping centers have suggested that daycare centers be set up in all shopping malls to support women employees with children.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on September 30, 2015.

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