Saudi Government Employees Work Only One Hour Daily, Minister Says

December 22, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. public sector / ˈpʌb lɪk ˈsɛk tər / (n.) – a part of the economy controlled by the government
Example: The private sector covers more industries than the public sector.

2. productivity / ˌproʊ dʌkˈtɪv ɪ ti / (n.) – the speed at which work is finished
Example: The department’s productivity increased after the machine was upgraded.

3. post / poʊst / (n.) – an employment position
Example: The school opened new teaching posts before the new academic year began.

4. indicator / ˈɪn dɪˌkeɪ tər / (n.) – something that tells the existence or measurement of something
Example: The success of the project is an indicator of the new management’s effectiveness.

5. alleged / əˈlɛdʒd / (adj.) – stated or reported, although without full certainty
Example: He was the alleged accomplice of the crime.


Read the text below.
A civil service minister of Saudi Arabia has said on public television that many of the country’s government employees work for only one hour a day.

In a televised debate, Minister Khaled Al-Araj said that based on studies, some employees of the public sector work for only an hour or less daily. On the same show, another minister said that if measures to monitor the attendance and productivity of employees are not introduced, the country could face bankruptcy in three to four years.

Currently, 70% of employed Saudi nationals are working for the public sector, and millions more are applying for government posts. The public sector offers several employee perks, including a very high salary.

Both statements sparked outrage among several Saudi government employees who denied the claim. In defense of employees, a human resources manager told major local newspaper Saudi Gazette that there is no indicator that accurately measures the employees’ productivity. In the same publication, a senior legal adviser also said that Al-Araj’s statement is exaggerated and insulting.

On the other hand, a Gazette columnist said that the issue of alleged short working hours among government employees has already been around for a long time. He said that some employees leave work many times a day for several reasons. Some leave work because they need to drive for their wives, sisters, or daughters, who are not allowed to drive by themselves. Meanwhile, others reportedly leave work to go to coffee shops or groceries.

To address the issue, initiatives such as checking the employees’ attendance several times a day have been introduced in many government departments. Also, the government will now fire employees after three years if they show poor work performance.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you agree with the initiatives introduced to monitor the attendance of government employees? Why or why not?
·         What do you think are excusable reasons for leaving work several times a day? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         In your opinion, how should the productivity of an employee be measured? Discuss.
·         What initiatives can be done to make employees more responsible for their actions?

December 22, 2016