A Comprehensive Guide to Holidays in the Saudi Labor System: Rights and Duties

Saudi Labor Law includes provisions ensuring employees’ rights to various leaves, such as annual leave, maternity leave, sick leave, and others. These leaves aim to provide a balance between professional and personal life, promoting overall health and well-being among employees.

Annual Leave in Saudi Labor Law The Right to Annual Leave

Every employee working under an indefinite or fixed-term contract is entitled to paid annual leave. This leave is calculated based on the length of service the employee has with the organization.

Details of Annual Leave

Years of Service Number of Days of Leave Less than 5 years 21 days 5 years or more 30 days

Organizing Annual Leave

Annual leave is granted according to a schedule determined by the employer, considering business needs and employees’ personal circumstances. Employees must apply for their leave timely, and the employer has the right to adjust or postpone the leave date if necessary for operational purposes.

Employee Rights During Annual Leave

During the annual leave period, the employee retains all rights, including full pay. Additionally, if the annual leave coincides with any public holiday, the employee is entitled to an extra day off for each holiday.

Types of Leaves in Saudi Labor Law

Saudi Labor Law offers a variety of leaves for employees, allowing them adequate time for rest, personal and family obligations, and recovery from illnesses.

Public Holidays and National Leaves

Saudi Arabia celebrates several official and national holidays, including:

Saudi National Day Eid Al-Fitr, which lasts for four days Eid Al-Adha, which also lasts for four days During these days, most institutions close, and employees receive paid leave.

Maternity Leave and Family Care Leave

Maternity Leave: Employed mothers are granted maternity leave for 10 weeks at full pay, which can begin four weeks before the due date. Family Care Leave: This leave is granted to employees who need to care for a direct family member suffering from a severe health condition.

Sick Leave and Marriage Leave

Sick Leave: Employees are entitled to 30 days of sick leave at full pay, followed by 60 days at half pay, then 30 days without pay. Marriage Leave: Employees are entitled to five days of paid leave on the occasion of their marriage.

Hajj Leave and Examination Leave Hajj Leave: Muslim employees who have been in service for two years or more are granted leave to perform the Hajj pilgrimage once during their employment, paid for up to 10 days. Examination Leave: Employees studying at official educational institutions are entitled to leave for examinations, up to a maximum of 10 days per year.

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Rules for Postponing and Splitting Leave

  • Postponement: An employer may postpone an employee’s leave if necessary for business interests, provided the employee is notified in writing and a new leave date is set.
  • Splitting: Annual leave may be split into two or more parts at the employee’s request, although at least one segment of the leave must be no less than two weeks unless the employer agrees otherwise.

Special Exceptions for Emergency Leaves

Employees may take emergency leaves in specific cases such as a death in the immediate family or a serious accident requiring the employee’s presence. These leaves may be paid or unpaid depending on the company’s policy.

Rules for New Employees and Probation Period

  • New Employees: Employees in a probationary period are not entitled to paid annual leave until they complete the probationary period and are permanently hired.
  • Probation Period: During the probation period, employees may be granted leave in exceptional cases, but these leaves are typically unpaid.

Exceptions for Senior Administrative Positions

  • Managers and Executives: Different rules may apply to executives or those in high managerial positions regarding their leaves, and they may have greater flexibility in scheduling their leave.

Formal Procedures for Applying Leaves According to Saudi Labor Law

The Saudi Labor Law specifies procedures for applying leaves to organize the process and ensure the rights of both the worker and the employer. Adhering to these procedures ensures smooth and effective operation without compromising the organization’s requirements.

Steps for Applying for Leave

  • Application Submission: Employees must submit their leave applications in writing or through the internal electronic system of the organization, if available.
  • Application Review: The employer must review the leave application and ensure it aligns with business needs and internal regulations.
  • Approval or Rejection: The employer has the right to approve or reject the application based on business requirements. The employee must be informed of the decision in a reasonable time before the proposed leave date.

Employer Obligations

  • Documentation: Employers must document all leave requests and decisions in employee records.
  • Transparency: Employers should be transparent about leave policies and provide easy access for employees to review these policies.

Employee Rights upon Rejection

  • Objection: Employees have the right to object if they perceive the rejection of their leave as unjustified, and employers must review the objection and provide a reasoned response.
  • Arbitration: If a resolution is not reached, employees may seek legal arbitration or consultation to ensure their rights.

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Rights of Workers and Obligations of Employers Regarding Leaves

The Saudi Labor Law establishes a set of rights for workers and obligations on employers concerning leaves to ensure a fair and balanced work environment. These rights and obligations are designed to protect workers and ensure their basic needs are met without negatively impacting work requirements.

Rights of Workers

  • Right to Leave: Every employee has the right to paid leaves according to the law and contract.
  • Job Security During Leave: An employee should not be dismissed or have their employment status negatively altered because of requesting leave.
  • Full Paid Leave: Leaves such as annual leave, public holidays, and Hajj leave should be fully paid.
  • Right to Object: Employees have the right to object if a leave request is unfairly denied or without just cause.

Obligations of Employers

  • Fair Approval of Leaves: Employers should handle leave requests fairly and objectively, considering both business needs and individual rights.
  • Providing Clear Information: Employers must clearly and comprehensively provide leave policies to all employees.
  • Proper Documentation: All leaves and their approvals or rejections should be documented in company records to ensure transparency and auditability in case of disputes.
  • Protection Against Discrimination: Employers must ensure that there is no discrimination in granting leaves based on gender, race, religion, or any other basis.

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How to Carry Over and Compensate for Annual Leaves in the Saudi Labor System

The Saudi labor system provides for the possibility of carrying over and compensating for annual leaves under certain conditions, ensuring the protection of employee rights while meeting work requirements. Here are the procedures and rules that govern these processes:

Carrying Over Annual Leaves

  • Conditions and Restrictions:
    • Employees may carry over no more than half the duration of their annual leave to the following year with the employer’s consent.
    • The carried-over leave must be used within the following year; otherwise, it is forfeited.
  • Carry Over Procedures:
    • Employees must submit a written request to carry over leave, and the employer approves it based on work needs.

Leave Compensation

  • Employee Compensation Rights:
    • If an employee cannot use their annual leave due to work requirements, they are entitled to monetary compensation for unused leave days.
  • Compensation Calculation:
    • Compensation is calculated based on the employee’s daily wage, multiplied by the number of accrued and unused leave days.
  • Payment Procedures:
    • Compensation must be paid to the employee at the end of the employment relationship or during employment if agreed upon by the employer.

Employer Responsibility

  • Legal Compliance:
    • Employers must ensure that all procedures related to the carryover and compensation of leaves comply with the Saudi labor system.
  • Proof Documents:
    • All operations related to the carryover and compensation of leaves must be documented and stored for future reference.

Emergency Leave Procedures in Saudi Arabia

Emergency leave in Saudi Arabia is designed to address unexpected circumstances requiring an employee to immediately leave work. The Saudi labor system sets out steps that employees must follow to request this leave.

Steps to Apply for Emergency Leave

  • Immediate Notification:
    • Employees must notify their employer as soon as possible about the need for emergency leave.
    • Notification can be verbal in urgent cases, but it is preferable to confirm it in writing.
  • Provide Details:
    • Employees should provide sufficient details about the reason for the emergency leave, such as a family illness or a relative’s death.
    • Employees may need to provide evidence supporting the reason for the leave, such as a medical certificate or death certificate.
  • Approval of the Request:
    • Employers should consider the request urgently and respond as quickly as possible.
    • In emergency situations, employers are expected to be flexible in handling these requests.

Legal Obligations of Employers

  • Consideration and Flexibility:
    • Employers should be flexible and understanding of the emergency circumstances their employees face.
  • Confidentiality and Privacy:
    • Confidentiality should be maintained, and the privacy of the employee regarding the reasons for emergency leave should be respected.

Employee Rights

  • Right to Take Leave:
    • Employees have the right to take emergency leave under justified circumstances according to law and company policies.
  • Protection Against Discrimination:
    • Employees should not face any form of discrimination or penalties for requesting emergency leave.

Unpaid Leave According to the Saudi Labor System

The Saudi labor system allows for unpaid leave under certain conditions, based on an agreement between the employee and the employer. These leaves are subject to a set of conditions and procedures that must be observed to protect both parties’ rights.

General Conditions for Unpaid Leave

  • Mutual Agreement:
    • There must be a mutual agreement between the employee and the employer for unpaid leave. An employer cannot impose this leave without the employee’s consent.
  • Written Documentation:
    • The agreement regarding unpaid leave must be documented in writing, including details of the duration and any other agreed terms.
  • Maintenance of Employment Rights:
    • Despite the absence of payment during the leave, the employer must maintain the employee’s job status, such as continuity of service and the right to return to work after the leave.

Acceptable Circumstances for Unpaid Leave

  • Education or Training:
    • Unpaid leaves may be granted for employees wishing to pursue higher education or specialized training.
  • Special Health Circumstances:
    • In cases of health conditions requiring an extended recuperation period exceeding paid medical leave duration.
  • Family Circumstances:
    • Such as caring for a sick relative or spending time with family in severe need situations.

Employee Rights During Unpaid Leave

  • Protection from Dismissal:
    • Employees should be protected from unfair dismissal during unpaid leave, as long as the leave has been approved according to agreed terms.
  • Right to Return to Work:
    • Employees have the right to return to their job after the leave, unless otherwise agreed.