Saudi Arabia introduces new public sector performance rules

Author: Sophie-Marie Odum | Date: 12 Oct 2016

Civil servants miss out on 11 days’ pay in calendar switch, and could face losing their jobs if deemed below par

The Saudi Arabian government has introduced a raft of new reforms, which mean 1.5 million civil servants will be paid by the Gregorian calendar rather than the Islamic Hijri calendar, costing them 11 days’ pay each year.
 
The move brings public sector reward practice in line with the private sector, and is accompanied by reforms aimed at introducing a new working culture and performance management practices.
 
Government employees will be subject to mandatory job performance evaluations to determine their eligibility for bonuses or pay rises. The new reforms, announced by the Ministry of Civil Services, officially came into effect at the start of the Islamic new year on October 2, and aim to increase performance, raise productivity and develop a work culture in line with the National Transformation Plan reforms announced earlier this year.
 
As part of the new reforms, civil servants can also be dismissed from their roles for the first time – but only if an employee has been given three years to improve their performance.
 
As part of a new evaluation system, employees will be denied salary increases unless their performance improves and will face disciplinary action if no improvement is seen by the second year. In the third year, the employee’s file will be sent to a specialised body to consider dismissal.
 
Workers will be classified under five categories from ‘excellent’ to ‘unsatisfactory’.
 
‘Excellent’ employees will be given a pay increment of 5 to 6 per cent, while ‘very good’ and ‘good’ employees will receive 4 per cent and 3 per cent rises, respectively. ‘Satisfactory’ performers will gain a 1 to 2 per cent increase and ‘unsatisfactory’ will see pay remain static.
 
Bonus payments for state employees have already been cancelled and ministers’ salaries cut by 20 per cent as part of a wider drive to reduce public sector costs. Wage increases have been suspended and allowances curbed for public sector employees, according to royal decrees and a cabinet statement published by state media.
 
The government is aiming to reduce the public sector wage bill to 40 per cent of spending by 2020, from 45 per cent currently.