The total labor force in 2001 stood at seven million. Approximately 35% of those were foreigners working mostly in the oil and construction sector. Of the 1999 workforce, 63% were in the service sector, with 25% in industry and the remaining 12% in agriculture.
Labor unions are illegal and collective bargaining is forbidden as well. Workers have few protections against employers. This is especially true of foreign workers who are often forced to work long hours and beyond the term specified by their contracts. Foreign workers have little redress against Sa'udi employers, since the labor system usually sides with the latter and employers can delay cases until the workers have to return home. Sa'udi employers routinely prevent workers from obtaining exit visas. In 2001, the government allowed the formation of labor committees which are permitted to make recommendations to employers.
By royal decree an eight-hour day and 48-hour week are standard. It is reported that domestic workers labor up to 20 hours a day seven days a week. Labor regulations require protection from hazard and disease for employees except farmers, herdsmen, domestic servants, and family-operated business employees. Labor outdoors is prohibited when the temperature exceeds 50°c (122° F ). Foreign workers report that these regulations are seldom enforced. With the consent of parents, children may work as young as 13 and children rarely work in Sa'udi Arabia outside of family businesses. There is no minimum wage.