JEDDAH — The Ministry of Labor has ordered the closure of 600 erring lingerie shops and has initiated penal action against other women’s accessory and lingerie outlets not complying with the government’s directive to employ only women as sales representatives.
Penalties include fines, suspension of files and closure of the establishment. Shops thus closed will not be allowed to reopen unless they replace all their male workers with females, a Ministry of Labor source was quoted by the Arabic press as saying Wednesday.
The decision to hire female workers will be strictly enforced and by the beginning of July all cosmetics shops which do not replace their male workers with females will be closed, the source pointed out.
Muhammad Al-Shehri, chairman of the textiles and readymade clothes committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), said 90 percent of women’s accessory shops in Jeddah have complied with the decision and hired around 1,500 female workers.
Ten percentage of women’s shops located in traditional and old markets have not hired women because women have not shown any interest in working in these shops, the official added.
Apart from the 600 lingerie shops that have been ordered closed, 30 shops have been given warnings to comply with the decision in two weeks or face closure, he pointed out.
“Saudi female workers get SR2,500-SR5,000 every month and most major shops work one shift only. We have sent a letter to the Minister of Labor calling for strict enforcement of one-shift work just like in other countries around the world. Some women find it difficult to work two shifts,” Al-Shehri said.
Following the decision to reserve jobs in lingerie shops for women, sales have increased by 30 percent, he added.
He said the decision to employ Saudi women at these shops is based on socio-economic and cultural reasons. He said the decision must be respected because it was issued by the highest authority in the country.
The Ministry of Labor also urged community members to report shops that are found in violation of the decision at TaNeeth@mol.gov.sa or toll free number: 920001173.
The Ministry of Labor provides women’s accessory shops with a list of potential female workers to make it easier for them to find female employees. The ministry requires all women’s accessory and lingerie shops to ban men from entering and to provide security guards at the door.
It also requires female workers to wear hijab and clothes in conformity with Shariah standards. — SG