Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Labor and Social Development is cracking down on companies allowing women to work shifts alongside men.
On Monday, the government body fined a fast food restaurant 40,000 riyals ($10,669) because its Saudi female employees were found to be working in the same area as expat men.
In a statement on the matter, the official spokesperson for the ministry of labor, Khaled Aba Al Khail, explained that action was taken after officials received a report stating the restaurant was violating rules.
"The company violated the ministry's 'women in the workplace scheme.' It was not providing its female employees a private place to work nor designating a room for them to rest and pray in," he said.
Aba Al Khail called on companies across the kingdom to adhere to the rules listed under a recently launched scheme. The plan is "aimed at organizing the process of Saudi women joining the workforce." Under it, women in mixed-gender facilities are banned from working in the same areas as men, regardless of whether their colleagues are expats or nationals.
"In mixed-gender workplaces the number of females working in the same shift shall not be less than two," is listed under one of the plan's rules. Another rule also bans women from working in facilities reserved for men.
The ministry's spokesman warned that Saudi officials will not be taking any violations lightly because they are adamant on "protecting women in the workplace."
The ministry's "women in the workplace scheme" is now in effect
Earlier this year, the kingdom's ministry of labor announced the implementation of a set of rules aimed at organizing work environments for women. The initiative comes at a time when large numbers of Saudi women are joining the kingdom's workforce.
Recent statistics have revealed that around 600,000 Saudi women have already entered the country's job market. They are now governed by the set of rules passed by the ministry of labor, which are now in complete effect.