Women demand employment rights


By Shatha Al-Hisaiki, Abrar Al-Sharqawi and Amirah Al-Muwalad

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — Many female employees are complaining about low salaries and transportation allowance as the third phase of feminizing women accessory shops and stores began on Saturday.

Amani, who works at a women accessory retail store, said she gets only SR500 a month as transportation allowance while she has to pay SR1,400 a month to commute from home to workplace.

“Transportation is the biggest obstacle for working women. We have to spend a huge portion of our salary on it,” said Amani.

Nourah Mohammad said she often has to leave her job in order to stay home with her infant daughter. “Nurseries and daycares cost SR1,200 a month in addition to the transportation expenses. If I work, I have to pay for my daughter’s daycare which costs me more than I can afford. But if I stay home with my daughter I can’t make any money,” said Mohammad.

Manal Al-Jehani, working at a women retail store in Madinah, said when she signed her employment contract there was no mention of transportation allowance in it.

“The contract only covered the basic salary, social insurance and the job description. I was not aware of my rights as an employee,” said Al-Jehani.

Israa Al-Ahmadi, employee at a private store, said her employer did not have her sign any contract.

“I just began working there and I was told that the salary for a night shift is SR1,800. When I checked my social insurance account I found out that my salary was supposed to be SR3,000,” said Al-Ahmadi.

Abrar Al-Jehani said she saw an advertisement for a job at a retail store that sells abayas, evening dresses and perfumes.

“The new contract enlists that all women employees will have transportation arranged for them as long as they are registered through the Taqat program.

There are employees at the store that have been working there for over a year and they were not able to have this service due to the fact that they are not registered on the Tagat program,” said Al-Jehani.

Human Resources Expert Waad Al-Aboud said many women are ignorant about their rights under Labor Law.

“The Labor Office should take a proactive role in creating awareness about employees’ rights and responsibilities. The Labor Office should simplify its laws and use infographics and short videos to create awareness through social media,” said Al-Aboud.

The third phase of feminization targets shops selling ladies perfumes, shoes, bags, stockings and ready-made garments.

Kiosks selling women accessories will also be fully feminized in addition to sections in malls and supermarkets which sell clothes and other women accessories.

The phase also includes independent small shops which sell wedding dresses, abayas, garments, child-care and other accessories.

Pharmacies in malls which sell cosmetics and make-up accessories will also be feminized.