Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 June 2019

Saudi's new labour regulation to allow direct hiring

The announcement has sparked fear there will be a return of favouritism

A Saudi woman gets assistance to be directed to the suitable jobs for her during the first annual Bab Rizq Jameel, a three-day job opportunity fair for Saudi youth. Getty Images
A Saudi woman gets assistance to be directed to the suitable jobs for her during the first annual Bab Rizq Jameel, a three-day job opportunity fair for Saudi youth. Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s new labour law will give individual ministries the ability to hire employees, bringing back traces of a system many complained nurtured favouritism in a country looking to crackdown on corruption.

The new law, published by the Ministry of Civil Service late on Saturday night, gives ministries the authority to hire and promote internally, reducing the power of the Jadara system which was implemented five years ago.

Jadara, a government employment service, was introduced in 2014 in its current form to curb employment habits ridden with nepotism and favouritism.

Saudis would apply online or in person through Jadara. The service would then appoint a position based on education, experience and test results. It also served as a job portal for citizens. More than a million Saudis have used the system that helps employ all Saudis who have met the requirements – a minimum of a high school diploma.

Saudis who The National spoke to said that certain ministries are dominated by specific large families and give preference to employing relatives in key positions without consideration of merit.

Many who took to social media said the new regulations would effectively end the Jadara system, which was a merit-based system of employing Saudis completely autonomous from the government sectors themselves.

But the spokesperson of the Ministry of Civil Service said that it would not be the case and instead clarified that Jadara would be implemented internally and adapted accordingly.

“There’s no truth to what’s being said about the ministry suspending the Jadara system. We are simply developing the system to allow government sectors to implement the hiring process on the system directly,” said Sultan Al Dhaheri, the spokesperson of the ministry to local Saudi media.

The system was heralded as a success for many of the kingdom’s youth who blame their difficulty in finding employment on having insufficient “wasta,” an Arab word describing favouritism.

However, Saudi Arabia’s unemployment rate remains high at 12.9 per cent, according to government statistics.

It is still unclear how the system would be “developed” into ministries but fears are that the system will be all together scrapped in favour of the old exploitable form of hiring.

Many Saudi citizens took to Twitter to express concerns about the new regulations, in particular placing the selection procedure in a programme named “Qualifying Excellence”.

The new stipulation allows hiring, training and potentially promoting fresh graduates in government sectors to fall in the direct purview of specific ministries.

Updated: February 17, 2019 05:25 PM

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