Domestic Worker Abuse: Saudi Arabia Changes Rules


According to Saudi’s General Authority for Statistics, there were a total of 3,579,960 domestic workers in Saudi Arabia at the end of the third quarter of 2022. 

Domestic worker abuse has long been a concern in Saudi Arabia, with numerous reports documenting the mistreatment of foreign domestic workers within Saudi households. However, recent changes in the country’s laws reflect a growing awareness of this issue and a commitment to improving the situation.

The new rules implemented by the Saudi government aim to protect domestic workers’ rights, ensure fair treatment, and reduce instances of abuse. According to Saudi’s General Authority for Statistics, there were a total of 3,579,960 domestic workers in Saudi Arabia at the end of the third quarter of 2022. 

The Musaned platform, under the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD), has specified that the minimum age for a single employer to obtain a visa for domestic workers must be 24 years.  The regulations for granting visas to recruit domestic workers and their equivalents apply to various categories of individuals, including Saudis, citizens of Gulf Cooperation Council states, members of displaced tribes, the wives and mothers of citizens, and holders of premium residency. These individuals are permitted to issue domestic worker visas based on their financial capacity.

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Another significant change introduced by the Saudi government is the implementation of standardized contracts for domestic workers. These contracts specify the working conditions, rights, and responsibilities of both the employer and the employee. By having standardized contracts, the government aims to ensure transparency and clarity in the working relationship, reducing the possibilities of exploitation or abuse. Additionally, these contracts include mandatory rest periods, limitations on working hours, and days off, providing domestic workers with some relief from their demanding occupations.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD) recently added the recruitment of 13 distinct domestic work categories to its Musaned platform. Musaned is the official channel through which employers in Saudi can hire full-time live-in domestic workers under their sponsorship. 

According to the MHRSD, the 13 categories are as follows, Female driver, private tutor, housekeeper, personal care worker, house manager, home tailor, coffee maker, travel assistant, home farmer, private speech and hearing specialist, personal assistant, support worker, and house guard.

In the past, hiring such employees would have fallen under the broad heading of “domestic worker.” Employers are prohibited from assigning domestic workers to carry out tasks not specified in the contract or to work for third parties, as per Article 2 of the Saudi Domestic Workers Law of 2013. Nonetheless, it is still typical for domestic workers to work for the relatives of their sponsors and complete numerous tasks that were not included in the contract.

Formally distinguishing between different types of domestic work may help address this issue. However, these new categories and all domestic workers should be included in the labour law to better protect workers against exploitation. 


Covenant Umoru

Covenant is a multi- media Journalist with over 4 years experience. More »

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