A SAUDI company recently fired a number of Saudi employees without any reason. It used Article 77 of the labor law that allows companies to terminate contracts for any reason. Some companies that have wanted to dismiss Saudi employees have abused this piece of legislation which states: “Unless the contract mentions a specific compensation for illegitimate termination, the grieved party shall be given compensation equal to 15 days’ pay for each year of service, if the party has signed a contract with unlimited period. However, if the contract has a specific period, then the grieved party shall be given compensation of two months’ salary.”
Because of this article, the Labor Dispute Settlement Commission, supervised by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, is no longer responsible for settling employer-employee disputes. The commission used to be in charge of settling disputes. It has previously reinstated many employees who were fired unfairly and even made employers pay compensation. Apparently, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs believes that Article 77 is clear, that it can resolve disputes between employers and employees and that there is no need for the commission to undertake this work.
It seems that the ministry has decided to stay out of any employer-employee dispute even though it played a major role in resolving such disputes in the past. Dismissing Saudi employees without a reason is a sensitive issue and can lead to severe consequences. All concerned ministries and government agencies should work together to develop the skills of Saudi employees and give Saudis a chance to play a major role in the Kingdom’s overall economic development. Young Saudi men and women are capable and have great minds; they can surely take the country to the forefront of science and technology.
Each time a company fires Saudis, its transactions with the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs are suspended until the ministry investigates the issue and finds out why the company fired the employees. Suspending a company’s transactions is not enough and will not end or stop unfair dismissals made in line with Article 77.
Job security is one of the pillars and foundations of social security. It is very important for social stability as well. It also enhances and strengthens national unity. While it is true that private sector companies have their own productivity and profitability plans and focus on making profits, these companies should realize that they have benefited a lot from the government’s facilities for years and made profits as a result. Now it is their turn to contribute to society and support Saudization policies. They should not dismiss Saudi employees. These companies should support government plans to enhance the skills and productivity of Saudi employees because without Saudis there can be no national progress or development. They are the future.
The ministry needs to review Article 77 that has been abused by several companies. The Shoura Council should discuss this issue and find a proper solution because it has a big impact on Saudi society. The ministry should review any law or amendment before approving it and should consider the possible consequences.