Manama: A study that recommends limiting working hours in the private sector to 40 hours a week and giving employees a two-day weekend will be reviewed by Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council.

The proposal by the Council’s administration and human resources commission said that adopting the recommendations would make the private sector more attractive to Saudis seeking jobs.

“Work in the private sector will be limited to eight hours a day and will be from Saturday until Wednesday,” Abdul Rahman Al Abaisi, the head of the commission, told local Arabic daily Al Eqtisadiya.

The new proposal replaces an earlier suggestion to bring down the number of working hours from 48 a week to 45.

However, the proposal was rejected amid calls to treat private sector employees like public sector staff and give them two days off a week. The Shura Council is likely to push for adopting the new measures expected to help labour market reforms.

Employees in the government sector are required to work 35 hours a week and are given Thursday and Friday off.

Such features and the greater job security it gives have made the sector a much more attractive option for new Saudi graduates and those seeking employment opportunities.

The labour ministry has called for increasing benefits in the private sector to help find solutions to rising unemployment rates among Saudis, especially women.

However, the call was not fully accepted by the powerful business community among concerns that it would affect the quality and output of the private sector.

A study prepared by the labour ministry concluded that reducing the number of working hours would make the private sector more attractive to Saudis and would increase productivity.

The study said that most Saudis wanted two consecutive days off, and not on separate days as suggested by some businessmen.

Saudi Arabia is home to 28 million people, including around nine million foreigners, mainly Asian workers.