On one particular Friday (that was last week), I went with a bunch of friends to Al Ramaniya Mall – the famous hangout of Filipinos – in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia and had, as usual, the chance to prattle (as in, to talk about our harrowing experiences at work in so insouciant a manner as to at least find a temporary relief of our boredom) with my fellow Filipinos. To my surprise, what was supposed to be a mere yap on this day turned into a serious discussion of our experiences that must have warranted a random, if not regular, check by the Philippine Embassy into some companies employing Filipinos.
Unexpectedly, the following became the meat of our discussion.
- Right to be furnished a copy of the employment contract
According to John (not his real name), his company did not give him a copy of his employment contract upon his arrival in Saudi Arabia, claiming that he could ask for it only in due time (i.e., when he needs it for a certain purpose) and that he could do so through the system they call ERP or Baan (which is equivalent to the Human Resources Information System that is usually used by the Philippine companies) subject to the approval of the HR Manager.
I told him the approval of the HR Manager is [supposedly] not required because it is a legally settled fact that both parties to a contract, whether related to employment or whatsoever, must each have a copy thereof, and it is applicable not only in Saudi Arabia but in all other countries as well.
In Saudi Arabia, I told him further that it is specifically set forth under Article 77 of its Labor and Workmen Law that “labor contract must be in writing, drawn up in Arabic and in duplicate to be retained by each of the two parties.” It is, however, the practice that the labor contract is written in both English and Arabic.
Taking a further look into Article 77, it is stated that one’s employment may not necessarily be under a written contract but he can demand at a later time for a written contract. What is perplexing to note, however, is that the onus of proof lies with the employee, as can be read in the same article, which says, “However, even though it is not written, a contract shall be considered existent, so that the workman alone may by all means of proof establish his rights.”
- Doing a job different from what is stipulated in the labor contract
Jokingly, I told him it should not matter, because what is important is, you are paid a monthly salary, as agreed.
But what startled me is, he was supposedly hired as a secretary but is actually assigned as a storekeeper. When asked why he did not complain, he told me with a snap of desperation: “Wala na koy mahimo, bay. Naa man ko diri. Ako nalang antoson (I cannot do something about my case, my friend. I am already here [in Saudi Arabia]. So I must bear with it).”
I am pretty sure his case is not unprecedented. In our company, there is this one Indian hired as a secretary but deployed as a production helper. But unlike him, the latter is a graduate of a bachelor’s degree who does not possess the required linguistic proficiency and computer skills, to the director’s chagrin.
They would not have experienced this if only their company had strictly followed the law: “A workman shall perform the work required of him pursuant to labor contract.”
- Working more than the required number of hours a day
Not only was John reassigned as a storekeeper; he has been working for a maximum of 12 hours a day for more than a year. Disappointingly, he claimed he has not since been paid an overtime pay for his overtime work that run up to, more or less, four hours a day. Granting that he joined his company on September 1, 2010 (meaning, his length of service is one year and six months, or 18 months) with a salary of SAR 1500 a month and that he is rendering four hours overtime work, he should have earned on top of his basic earning, thus:OT Hours Worked: 18 months x 26 = 468 days (26 days per month) 468 days x 4 = 1872 hours (OT work is 4 hours a day) OT Pay Per Hour: SAR 1,500 / 30 / 8 = SAR 6.25 (Regular hourly rate) 6.25 + (6.25 * 0.5) = SAR 9.375 (OT Pay Rate per hour) OT Pay: 1872 x 9.375 = SAR17,550 (equivalent to P198,315, computed based on P11.30 per SAR)
With P198,315, John could have bought a parcel of land with an area of 132.21 square meters for P1500 per square meter or could have built a decent house (if he doesn’t have one).
- Saudi Arabia’s repression against its citizens and Sectarianism will change the Shape of the Region in Near Future (jafrianews.com)
- Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan are the Middle East Axis of Evil (therearenosunglasses.wordpress.com)
- Jobs in Saudi Arabia for the Driver (lowker92.wordpress.com)
- Saudi Arabia – Purple Haze (jellylondon.wordpress.com)
- World Briefing | Middle East: Saudi Arabia: Year After Protest, Six Suspects Remain in Jail, a Rights Group Says (nytimes.com)
- Rogge confident Saudis will send women to London (sportsillustrated.cnn.com)
- Jobs in Saudi Arabia for Technician and Elektrical (lowker92.wordpress.com)
- Rachael Rudolph says she feels at home in Saudi Arabia, just like in the United States (fauxcapitalist.com)