Double delight for Saudi women as labor ministry scraps retirement age rule

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Saudi students walk at the exhibition to guide job seekers at Glowork Women's Career Fair in Riyadh in this Oct. 2, 2018 file photo. — Reuters

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s decision to allow women to travel independently was hailed in the Kingdom on Friday as a historic leap for gender equality.

The Kingdom announced it was effectively allowing women over the age of 21 to obtain passports and travel abroad without securing the permission of their “guardians” — husband, father or other male relatives.

“The new regulations are history in the making,” Princess Reema Bint Bandar, named earlier this year as Saudi Arabia's first woman ambassador to Washington, said on Twitter. “They call for the equal engagement of women and men in our society. It is a holistic approach to gender equality that will unquestionably create real change for Saudi women.”

The decision triggered a wave of jubilation on social media, with the hashtag “No guardianship over women travel” and “This is our time” gaining traction.

As Saudi women celebrate the historic move, another good news is in store for them.

Okaz/Saudi Gazette have learned that the authorities concerned have decided to treat males and females equally with regard to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development regulations.

The ministry now considers a worker as every natural person “male or female” working for an employer and under his or her management and supervision in return for a wage, even if he is not within sight.

The amendments in the labor regulation have stressed that “it is not allowed to discriminate between workers on the basis of gender, disability, age or any other forms of discrimination whether in work, employment or advertising on the vacancy.”

The authorities concerned have abrogated the rule about the retirement age — 60 years for a male worker and 55 years for a female. They say that the retirement ought to be in line with the requirements of the social insurance regulation.

While, the regulation earlier used to forbid the employer from sacking a female worker or issue her a dismissal notice while she is on a maternity leave, the new amendments have also approved the condition that a female worker cannot be fired or issued a notice of dismissal from her job while she is on a maternity leave.

The new amendments also approve that a female worker cannot be sacked or issued a warning that she will be fired if she falls sick due to pregnancy or delivery. This is on a condition that this should be proved by an attested authentic medical report, and her absence should not exceed 180 days per year, whether continuous or intermittent.

The regulation nullified the possibility for a woman to be paid her pension if she has a subscription of at least 120 months when she has reached the age of 55 years and above.


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