JEDDAH: SARAH ABDULLAH
Saturday 30 June 2012
Construction workers and other employees laboring outdoors are to finally get some relief from the sweltering summer temperatures as Saudi Arabia’s midday work ban begins today.
The Kingdom-wide ban, first implemented by the Ministry of Labor last summer, prohibits outdoor work between noon and 3:00 p.m. from July 1 through Aug. 31.
Nonetheless, human rights groups such as the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) said they received several complaints that the ban was not enforced.
“We had many cases and complaints about companies forcing their employees to work in the sun during the banned hours,” Mufleh Al-Qahtani, president of the NSHR, told Arab News in an interview last summer, adding that the rights organization is monitoring the situation.
The NSHR later filed a petition with the Ministry of Labor asking them to enforce the midday work break.
As a result, the Ministry of Labor vowed to be tougher in enforcing the ban this summer. “This year, we will send out inspection teams to construction sites to enforce the ban and protect the Kingdom’s outdoor workers,” said Hattab Al-Anizi, spokesman at the Ministry of Labor.
Companies that force their employees to work during the banned hours would face fines ranging from SR 3,000 to SR 10,000 in addition to shutting down their firms for 30 days or permanently.
Laborers who are forced to work in the sun and wish to lodge a complaint can contact the Ministry of Labor’s Office Committee of Complaints by calling +966 1 200 6666 or by filling out the form at www.portal.mol.gov.sa/pages.complaints.