Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced that the Council of Ministers has decided to selectively impose a levy on house workers, on 9 March 2022.
The employment of domestic workers in Saudi Arabia is currently allowed from India, Philippines, Niger, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Mauritania, Uganda, Eritrea, South Africa, Madagascar, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Mali, and Kenya.
The domestic workers in Saudi Arabia include nine types of professions such as house managers, drivers, servants, house cleaners, cooks and caterers, guardians of homes, buildings and rest houses, home farmers and home tailors.
Saudi employers will have to pay an annual fee of SR9600 for each house worker if their number exceeds four, while expatriate employers will pay the same amount for each worker in excess of two.
The fee will be applicable for every additional worker hired by the same employer.
However, there will be an exemption on humanitarian grounds. For example, workers hired to give medical care to a family member or to take care of people with special needs will be exempted from the payment in accordance with certain terms and conditions formulated by the committee constituted for that purpose.
The ministry noted that only a limited segment of Saudi and expatriate employers will be affected by this decision.
In other words, a Saudi employer needs to pay the annual fee if he hires a fifth domestic worker while the expatriate employer will pay the same fee in the event of hiring a third worker.
The fee for domestic workers will come into force in two phases. The first phase will be effective from May 22, 2022 (Shawwal 21, 1443) for new recruits.
The second phase will come into force from May 11, 2023 (Shawwal 21, 1444) for both new and existing domestic workers in excess of the exempted number, the ministry said.
In the first phase, the levy will be paid to new domestic workers. In the second phase, the levy will be extended to existing workers in the country. Currently, the levy is payable to private-sector employees and dependents in Saudi Arabia.
The levy is 800 riyals (Rs. 16,000) per month and 400 riyals (Rs. 8000) for dependents. In 2014, the authorities decided on imposing a levy on foreign workers in the private sector. Later in 2017, a law was introduced that required dependents to pay the sum.
The domestic helpers are entitled to paid sick leave with a medical report for a period not exceeding thirty days every year. The domestic helpers are entitled to one month’s paid leave if he has spent two years with the employer and wants to renew their contract for a similar period.
Saudi spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development Saad Al Hamad stressed the importance of making citizens aware of not committing any violations against domestic workers such as delaying salaries and keeping their passports in custody.