The ministry’s feminization program has been divided into three phases. The first phase covers stores selling lingerie and cosmetics, the second gowns and bridal dresses and the third fragrances, maternity wear, shoes, bags, ready-made clothing, fabrics and other accessories.
Sources said recently the inspectors would also provide shop owners with information and guidance that would enable them to comply with the regulations requiring them to hire women.
Employers would have to modify working conditions and address violations. They are also required to cooperate and respond to feedback from inspectors or any other government agency. The ministry said it would penalize shops that fail to do so.
On Monday, the Labor and Interior Ministries carried out joint inspections at 96 shops in central Riyadh, arresting 66 expatriates who violated regulations.
Abdullah Al-Olayan, general manager at the Labor Ministry in Riyadh, said the inspections have been taking place over an extended period. He said the ministry is working closely with the Interior Ministry to deploy inspection teams. Officials from the two ministries are also having regular meetings.
He said Labor Minister Adel Fakeih, his deputy Mufarrij Al-Haqbani, and Abdullah Abuthnain, deputy minister for inspections and development of the work environment, have been overseeing operations.
Inspection teams have been checking conditions across all sectors, including construction and building, operations and maintenance, wholesale and retail, accommodation and tourism, food and nutrition, health and education.
Al-Olayan called on employers and business owners to comply with the regulations and avoid committing violations, because it ultimately affects negatively on the economy.
Meanwhile, the textile committee at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, under chairman Suleiman bin Hamad Al-Yahya, recently discussed various challenges facing employers on the regulations.
The committee discussed the demands of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which require shop owners to sign written undertakings that they would change their shops to accommodate women workers.
Al-Yahya said textile shops still face various obstacles, including the problem of women being unable to carry large rolls of fabric that weigh up to 250 kg. “It is very difficult for women to move the fabric around,” he said. He said other skills, such as cutting the cloth professionally, is also needed. “Women are not the only customers for cloth and fabrics used for dresses, because these materials are also used for curtains, couches and sofas.