Saudi Arabia - New Labor Law for Lingerie Shops


New rules to protect female shoppers, workers

DAMMAM – The Ministry of Labor is to forge ahead with its requirement that all lingerie outlets be staffed by Saudi women in response to the demand of the “Enough Embarrassment” campaign that the shops be staffed by women to comply with Islamic Shariah.

“The project will be highly supervised to guarantee its success,” said Dr. Ali Bin Sulaiman Al-Tekhaifi, assistant undersecretary for development at the ministry, in Dammam Wednesday. He warned that employers who fail to implement regulations “will be cut off from the ministry’s services”.

Al-Tekhaifi made the announcement at a workshop titled “Organizing women’s work in lingerie shops” at the Asharqia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Government authorities, investors and female job seekers are all working together to serve the nation. The new law takes into consideration the special role Saudi women have to play in society,” he said.

“Shops that specialize in lingerie and cosmetics shops have until Jan 4, 2012 to comply with regulations. However, other shops will be given until June 30, 2012 to comply with the decree,” he added.

The decision covers all shops whether they are independent or in a shopping mall or public market.


Shops that do not comply with the decree will not have their license renewed.

Al-Tekhaifi said: “If the shop is exclusively for women, there must be at least three Saudi staff per shift and men will be totally banned from entering these shops.”

The shop must comply with special standards including tinted glass as is the case in dressmaking workshops and beauty salons. However this is not necessary if the shop is already segregated for families.

“These shops must also employ Saudi women but it is up to the shop owner whether it is exclusively run by women or whether it is segregated,” he said.

The women-only shops must be fitted with an electronic security system or if they are within a mall they must have a comprehensive security system. They must also have a security guard stationed on the premises unless there is one located in the shopping mall.

Shops must also be fitted with a suitable women’s restroom or be located near to one in a mall or market.

Al-Tekhaifi defended the conditions saying they “are natural, easy to fulfill and flexible. Hence, shopkeepers can comply with these conditions.”

“Female employees must still comply with Islamic Shariah and observe modesty by wearing a veil (Hijab), though they may wear a uniform if the shop has a special dress code.”

Employers and female staff must sign a contract to guarantee that their rights are enforced, which will state whether the women are to work full-time or in part-time shifts.
“If the shop owner does not fulfill the Ministry of Labor’s conditions, he will be cut off from the ministry’s services including visas, changing of profession and recruitment,” Al-Tekhaifi said.

He added that the ministry and the Human Resources Development Fund will finance the training of female workers. He said employment would be supported for three years instead of the usual two years.

The program was launched in July 2011 and is to come into effect by 2012 (1433H).