Cairo: The Saudi private sector, the economic powerhouse of the kingdom, started Wednesday a cut in its labour operation in the latest precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social development instructed private businesses to suspend employees’ reporting at workplaces for 15 days and activate remote work except at vital facilities providing electricity, water and telecoms services.
The ministry also directed private businesses to reduce their staff to the skeleton level to account for 40 per cent of the overall workforce, the Saudi news agency reported.
The private sector contributed around 44 per cent to the gross domestic product in 2018, according to report by the Council of Saudi Chamber. About 54 per cent of the kingdom’s overall workforce are employed by the private sector, according to the same report. They included 1.6 million Saudi nationals at the end of the first half in 2019 and the rest were expatriates.
A compulsory 14-day holiday will be given to certain categories of employees at those businesses including pregnant women, foster mothers, people with respiratory disorders, immunity deficiency disease and chronic health problems as well as those aged over 55 years, according to the ministry. This holiday is not to be deducted from the employee’s accrued leave.
171 confirmed cases
Saudi authorities have already halted work for 16 days at the government institutions except at health, security and military facilities as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Saudi Arabia has recorded 171 confirmed Covid-19 cases, six of them have covered.
In a bid to cushion the economic impact of the virus on the private sector, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a package of $13.3 billion in support for the sector. The package includes easy-term loans for small and medium-scale enterprises.
The private sector is envisaged as a major partner in Saudi Vision 2030, am ambitious development scheme launched in 2016 to diversify the country’s oil-reliant economy. Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz has repeatedly pledged support for the growth of the private sector seen as a key tool for creating jobs for Saudis.
“Among the Saudi government’s priorities is continuing its support for the private sector and enabling it as an active partner to development,” he said in a televised address.