Arab News reports that Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labor stands behind the traditional requirement that women receive their male guardian’s permission to work before they can be hired. The ostensible reason is to provide a financial guarantor for the women who — silly things — might be taken advantage of by cruel employers. Or they might make mistakes. If they do make a mistake, then the guardian can be hit up to make the company whole.
Never mind that Saudi women are quite competent and as businesswomen can be as ferocious as any male competitor. “This is the way we used to do it, so this is how we will do it,” seems to be the Ministry’s point.
Oddly enough, this requirement was dropped by the Ministry of Higher Education five years ago. The world did not stop; the Saudi economy and courts did not collapse. Perhaps the various ministries should sit down, compare notes, and find some actual data to support antiquated regulation?
Guardians’ agreement for Saudi women’s employment finds few takers
JEDDAH: FADIA JIFFRY
Public sector companies have the right to request an approval letter from legal guardians at the time of employing Saudi women to ensure their financial rights, Ministry of Labor sources have stressed.
There is no current clause in the labor law that requests business owners to obtain a female’s legal guardian consent at the time of her employment, sources say.
However, according to old labor laws, no woman can be employed without the prior agreement of her guardian.
The ministry said it is the company’s right to seek prior agreement of the guardian, especially for saleswomen, which requires them to conduct financial dealings with customers.
“The company has to make sure females have guarantors, which is the case in companies that specialize in ticket sales. If, for example, a female employee were to breach her custody and the case is taken to the police, her guardian would be held accountable to the employer,” a ministry official said in a statement.
The statement came after local press obtained a copy of a document signed by a group of women who work at a retail facility, which required the guardians’ approval for their female kin as a precondition for their work.