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An overview of Saudi’s new Domestic Workers Law

The law, which comes into force a year from now, provides better protections but lacks enforcement mechanisms

On October 17, 2023

The old law remains in effect until 21 September 2024. Download the Know Your Rights leaflet for the current domestic workers law here.

Saudi Arabia issued a new law, comprising 33 articles, for domestic workers on 2 October 2023, which will come into effect a (Hijri) year from its issuance on 21 September 2024. While the new law is an improvement over the previous regulations governing domestic workers, introducing some critical new provisions and offering greater clarity on existing ones, it still does not address the important issue of minimum wage. Key reforms include an explicit ban on passport confiscation, the establishment of maximum working hours, and the introduction of occupational safety and health regulations for the first time.

However, the true test of these enhanced protections will be in its implementation. Provisions of the old domestic work law were rarely enforced, and in some cases, amended regulations, including domestic workers’ right to change employers when they are not paid, were not put into practice at all. Adequate compliance monitoring, accessible complaints mechanisms, and accountability are needed for workers to meaningfully benefit from the new law.

Furthermore, it is crucial that domestic workers are treated as workers in any other sector and be included in the Saudi labour law. Domestic workers are not covered by the recent labour reforms in the country, which included important (albeit still uncertain) changes to the absconding system. The provisions of the new law have limited impact without corresponding reforms to the Kafala system, under which employers’ control over workers’ legal status maintains a highly unequal relationship between the two parties.

The new law, Ministerial Decision No. 40676 of 2 October 2023 (03/17/1445 AH), will supersede the previous law, Ministerial Decision No. 310 of 2013.

The following table summarises some key aspects of the new domestic workers’ law, based on’s own translation from the official Arabic text.