Not paying salaries again

Not paying salaries again

Mahmoud Ahmad

Mahmoud Ahmad

I remember writing many articles in the past about the delay in paying salaries to employees and how many companies or employers have the habit of delaying salaries for many months. I also received many comments and emails from readers, who explained their own issues in length and how they were suffering at the hands of their companies and employers who delay salaries for many months, most of the time without a logical reason.

The pathetic condition of the employees due to the callous attitude of the companies/employers tugs at everyone’s hearts. One gets extremely sad when he/she imagines, what if it was them in their shoes? What if it was me who was not paid for many months and my mother/father back home is waiting for my financial support to buy medicine? What answer would I give to my wife back home when she is stranded with bills and school fees because I was not paid here? A man’s imagination will be taken over by dark thoughts if it was him who was not paid on time.

Just a few weeks ago, I had written an article about a list of new rules released by the Labor Ministry last October, including a fine of SR3,000 against institutions and sponsors who are delaying salaries, for both Saudis and expats. It also included a fine for forcing employees to work extra hours without overtime payment, or force them to work during official weekends and holidays. Despite the threat of the huge fine the company/sponsor would have to pay for each employee whose salary is delayed, it seems that there are companies either not comprehending the decision or simply ignoring it in the belief that it will not happen.

Soon after the release of the ministry’s new set of laws, I have been monitoring the news for stories of employees not getting paid on time and within a month came across three of them.

The first one is of maintenance and cleaning workers in Tabuk who went on strike because of late salaries. I feel extra sorry for these cleaning workers because they are hit hard all the time despite being low paid. About 300 cleaning workers in Tabuk refused to go back to work and the municipality had to intervene and convince them to return to work. According to the news, the municipality called the representative of the company and took the necessary measures to ensure that the rights of both sides are protected.

The report did mention that if the strike had continued then the people of Tabuk would have faced health risks. But nowhere was the plight of the workers, whose salary was delayed, discussed. Nor, was the pain and suffering of these workers who have families depending on them back home, talked about even if they are paid a pittance.

Another story was of security guards working at a university. These guards were not paid for three months. The poor male and female guards complained both to the Labor Ministry and to the university. The university declined responsibility saying that they were not their employees, but employed by the contracting company, who provide manpower to various companies. They took the issue to the Labor Ministry only to later complain that the ministry did not force the contracting company to pay the late salaries.

Again, what is striking is that these people have families to support and mouths to feed. Borrowing money maybe could prove to be a temporary solution, but until when? Those giving out these loans too may get tired of the constant touching for money. Some inconsiderate people may even say that they should work another job. But, do they realize, that this move will be at the expense of the employees’ health while also making them stay away more from their families.

A third story of delayed salaries was of workers in companies working in government projects. About 50 expatriate workers were on strike because they did not get paid for many months. The Labor Ministry branch in Tabuk succeeded in solving the problem by convincing them to go back to work, according to the report. The ministry then urged these companies not to delay salaries or else all their services with the ministry would be suspended. However, there was no mention of workers getting paid or of measures taken to ensure that this problem does not repeat. What good will come out of suspending a company’s account with the Labor Ministry when the worker is still unpaid?

I do not know when this law of imposing fines on offending companies will be implemented but I urge the Labor Ministry to implement it immediately. Such violating companies, after paying the fines, should be named and shamed and banned from operating or given any projects. They should be blacklisted. The fine paid should be distributed equally between the unpaid workers as a punishment for the company. Paying fines is the only thing that would discipline violators as it would pinch them where it will hurt most — their pockets. Unless these rules are implemented with diligence, they are just strong written words.

At present times when countries specify the number of days of unpaid salary needed before a fine can be imposed, Islam was quicker and just and urged all employers to pay before the sweat on the employees’ brow goes dry. We should follow the rules of Islam even before following the rules and regulations by humans.

This issue seems to be a recurrent one, and in the face of such dispassionate action by the companies/ employers, we will keep shedding light on the workers’ plight by keeping on addressing their issues, especially the matter of unpaid salaries until this problem is solved.

The writer can be reached at
Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng


  1. It is very kind of the author to highlight the plight of employees in Saudi Arabia. In other countries, when a worker leaves upon completion or his contract or for any reason, there is always a party for him/her, roses, gifts from colleagues, and also a gift money and a “Thank you” note from the employer. Some employers like to see other ‘s suffering and take pleasure, and it is because they were treated with such cruelty and abused at young age by someone, parents or some elders. Basically saying, many employers live with mental problems and they own business.

  2. Thank you, Mr Mahmoud, for keeping the plight of these workers in the forefront of your discussions. Indeed, this must be the strata of society who are the hardest hit, not being able to represent themselves nor having any legal recourse. Shame on the employers for withhold the pay of the poorest. Fully agree with you that such organizations should be named, shamed, heavily fined and banned publicly. Getting paid one’s due salary on time is a worker’s right. The employers should consider themselves very lucky that workers’ union, like those that exist in some other countries, are yet to find a foothold here. Not only is the employers’ treatment unfair and unlawful, it tarnishes the image of this country in the outside world (a situation that brings no honour).

  3. I am expertiat worker from india working in prominant company of KSA which is umbrella organization of aziziya panda united where 3 month before I had lost my wallet in which I had lost my iqama my bank ATM and money. I informed my company they said they will issue new iqama and charged 1500 riyal for this until now company does not give my iqama where my salaries goes directly to my account where I can’t withdraw money because I had lost my Bank ATM too Bank want my iqama then they will issue me an new BANK ATM. Where I informed my superiors mangers HR but no action will taken now I was out of money for last 3 months I didn’t received my salary in cash they take my service but they are not concerned about my problem now I am hoplese of this situation what can I do I do not know. Please suggest what can I do where am I go to take help.

  4. Aslamu alikum
    On the behalf of all expatriates i am very thankful to you because you always write about expats problems and its solutions. Also, please Sir, write an article about huroob misuse by sponsors…

  5. Dear Writer and Dear Editor, You deserve big thanks from all the suffering expatriates. Jazak Allah Khair!

  6. excellent article from dedicated writer who is exposing the suffering of the poor people and demanding from the employers to pay the salaries of the employees in time. it is unfortunately that the laws in this connection are not being implemented correctly. unless the ministry of labour take action against those who are not adhering to the law the situation shall not be improved

  7. What should we do if my company didn’t pay our monthly compensation? Is it posible that we can transfer to another company even my company did not agree with that?

  8. First of all many congrats and thanks to the dedicated author and then ill ask about my problem and I really hope in despair that someone like the author will answer my question. I have been receiving my salary but it is always late by ten days with illegal deductions, is there any easier way to report my issue and get justice or I will have to go to the court and file a case? Which will be very hard to pursue as once the mudeer or kafeel comes to know about this he will not issue my salary anymore and ill have to work otherwise ill be handed over to police on the basis of my contract. The court takes much time for me to suffer.
    please help, anyone..

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