Riyadh: The Saudi Government is introducing big changes in its Labor laws and the Kafala System. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has now officially abolished the decades-old ‘kafala system’ introducing new labor reforms for foreign workers.
Last year in November, the country’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced that the government would unveil the new rules governing foreign labor, which would become applicable from the first half of 2021.
According to Al Arabiya, the country’s improved reforms on its “Kafala” sponsorship system officially came into effect on Match 14.
Under the new conditions of Saudi Arabia’s Kafala system, ex-pat workers will be able to transfer to other jobs upon the expiry of their work contract without the need for their former employer’s approval.
The reforms also include transition mechanisms during the validity of the contract, provided that the notice period and the specified controls are adhered to.
Furthermore, ex-pat workers will be able to travel outside Saudi Arabia, upon submitting an application, with an online notification to the employer without the need to seek prior permission.
A ‘final exit’ stipulation will also allow foreign workers to leave immediately after their contract expires, with an online notification sent to an employer without requiring the employer’s consent.
“The announcement will do away with the need for a sponsor or kafeel’s approval to transfer sponsorship, for a migrant worker to undergo sponsorship in order to receive exit and re-entry visas, and for migrants to become runaways or “huroob” from their kafeels,” stated Migrante International, a global alliance of grassroots migrants organizations of overseas Filipinos.
“The KSA is undertaking this important measure in order to strengthen its private sector and make the latter more attractive to foreign talents, as it seeks to diversify its internal economy which has for a long time been dependent on oil,” it added.
It is pertinent to mention, that under the old “kafala” system, applied to foreign employees working in Gulf Arab countries, the workers are required to be sponsored by a Saudi employer and be issued an exit/re-entry visa whenever they want to leave the country.
The Kingdom currently resides with over 10 million foreign workers with a majority from South Asian countries including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Philippines.