Employers in Saudi Arabia will no longer be allowed to keep the iqama residency cards, passports or medical insurance cards of their employees, according to local media reports.
That’s according to new regulations that have been enforced following amendments in the labour law introduced by minister of Labour and Social Development Ahmed Suleiman Al-Rajhi, Saudi Gazette reported.
Under the amendments, companies will have to correct violations – if any – within 10 days, instead of the previous 30 days, and pay any fines imposed on them within 60 days, instead of 15 days previously, the report stated.
The ministry also warned that it will suspend all its services to violators who do not pay their fines until they pay up the amount and fix the issue.
The amendments also clarified situations where a worker may be fired without receiving his/her end-of-service benefits.
These include absence from work for 15 consecutive days or 30 intermittent days during a contractual year.
An employee who physically attacks a colleague at work or verbally attacks a manager or superior – even by electronic means – will also not be eligible for the end-of service benefits, the report added.
Saudi has been looking at improving labour conditions in the kingdom.
In November, the country opened seven new labour courts aimed at protecting workers and boosting investment.
The fully digitised labour courts are located in the country’s major cities including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Makkah, Madinah, Abha and Buraidah.
They will hear all cases related to the labour law, such as disputes concerning labour contracts, wages, rights, and work injuries and compensations; disputes concerning the employer’s imposition of disciplinary sanctions on employees; lawsuits filed for imposing labour law sanctions; and disputes arising from applying the labour law and the social insurance law.
Some 13 million workers are currently present in Saudi Arabia, including 10 million expatriates and three million Saudis, according to data from July.