Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labour has warned employers that it is illegal to discriminate against married or pregnant women, it was reported.
Local newspaper Arab News said that an increasing number of companies in the kingdom were insisting that women must be unmarried to qualify for employment, which violates the kingdom's workforce regulations.
“Some private companies are stipulating conditions such as a woman shall be recruited only if she is single or not pregnant if married,” said ministry spokesman Hatab Al-Anazi. "[That] is against the regulations approved by the ministry.”
Demanding that a woman worker remain single is not only against employment law, but also Sharia, Al-Anzi added.
“The fourth clause of the ministry’s employment regulations stipulates both the employer and his worker should adhere to Sharia rules,” said Al-Anazi.
According to a survey carried out by Gallup earlier this month, Saudi Arabia has one of the world's largest disparities between male and female employment, with a gap of 23 percent between male and female employees.
The oil-rich Kingdom has made recent efforts to increase employment among women.
The government has now enforced a law to employ only Saudi women in lingerie and cosmetic shops, following a campaign by local women's rights activist Reem Asaad.