In a bid to protect the rights of employers and domestic workers in the Kingdom, the Labor Ministry moved to engage for the first time in a dialogue with domestic workers and their employers to address their grievances.
The two-day dialogue included the participation of Labor Minister Adel Fakeih and senior officials from 10 ministries and various government agencies which discussed a wide range of subjects in the domestic help sector. The aim of the dialogue was to explain the recruitment procedure for greater transparency and ways to improve the work environment for domestic workers, according to officials.
The dialogue also welcomed more than 150 Saudi citizens who shared their practical experience on the issue of domestic workers. The second day of the dialogue concluded Saturday with debates on several burning issues in the presence of senior officials.
Chairman of the Saudi Human Rights Commission and a senior diplomat of Sri Lanka, a major domestic worker-exporting country, also participated in the dialogue.
“We intend to involve all stake holders including Saudi citizens in policy decisions related to the labor market in general and domestic workers in particular,” said Fakeih.
Addressing the forum, the minister said that he was keen on providing the attendees with an opportunity to express their views prior to framing a policy.
The minister noted that the Labor Ministry’s role is not confined to issuing visas but extends to ensuring that the working environment for domestic workers adheres to specific standards with an effective mechanism to address any issue.
Bandar Al-Iban, chairman of the Human Rights Commission, commended the ministry for initiating the dialogue and for putting in place a mechanism to ensure the protection of the workers’ and employers’ rights. “The Kingdom hosts a large number of domestic workers from different parts of the world and it is imperative that there is a mechanism to protect the rights of all stakeholders,” he said, adding that the Kingdom has issued a charter which specifies the rights and responsibilities of domestics and their employers.
The chief of the Saudi Human Rights Commission also observed that exploitation of domestic workers was not acceptable, adding that human dignity and justice is a prerequisite of the Islamic law.
The meeting expressed concern over the increasing cost of domestic workers. Participants also debated the functioning of 338 recruitment offices and 19 mega companies, the selection criteria of workers and contract modules. The ministry’s Web portal www.musaned.gov.sa was cited as an exclusive portal for the recruitment of domestic workers.