Saudi workers enraged by five-times a day attendance checks

Saudi workers enraged by five-times a day attendance checks
2 min read
20 Oct, 2016
Medina mayor rejects workers' calls to end stringent attendance tracking after a 15-second "dialogue".
Workers risk losing their day's wage is they do not use the fingerprint scanners [Getty]

Workers in the western Saudi city of Medina are up in arms after new legislation was introduced on Tuesday, requiring employees to use a fingerprint scanner five times a day to validate their attendance.

Over 2,000 employees received an email at the beginning of this week informing them of the new rules introduced by Madinah's mayor Mohammad al-Amiri. This requires them to use the scanner when they arrive at work, then at 9:30am, 10:30am, 11:45am and when leaving the premises.

Failure to comply with the stringent rules could result in a salary reduction, or indeed the witholding of the day's pay due to 'absence'.

The new measures do not apply to heads of departments and senior officials.

This has caused many disgruntled workers to meet with the mayor to voice their objections.

The mayor, however, has rejected their calls for a reversion to a previous system.

"You are giving me your own interpretations, and I tell that I have understood the system and how it works for 30 years," al-Amiri was quoted by Saudi daily Okaz as having said to the workers on Wednesday.

The same source reported that the "dialogue" lasted no longer than 15 seconds and was concluded with the mayor walking away.

According to some employees quoted by Doha News, the new measures will be detrimental for working environments.

"It seems that the management is not interested in enhancing productivity and that it is instead focusing on monitoring employees, which creates an unhealthy atmosphere," they said.

Across Saudi Arabia, employers and authorities are introducing a range of measures and changes in order to aid the country's squeezed finances.

Earlier this month, the kingdom abandoned using the Islamic lunar calendar to schedule pay for government workers in a bid to save on costs.

In late September, cabinet ministers' salaries were cut and public sector bonuses were scrapped as part of the same cost-saving drive.