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Saudi Arabia reforms labour law; grants foreign workers greater rights

Saudi Arabia reforms labour law; grants foreign workers greater rights

New reforms will come into effect in March 2021

Saudi Arabia has introduced an initiative to reform its labour laws to allow expatriate workers additional rights in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP).

The Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development announced the “Labour Relation Initiative,” in Riyadh, to regulate the local labour market in a way that is beneficial to both employers and foreign workers. It will come into effect in March of 2021.

The initiative allows expatriate workers labour mobility, as well as amends existing exit procedures in line with international immigration best practices and in sync with local labour laws. The reforms will drive greater competition in the local market by permitting workers to change their employers and allowing the latter to attract the best talent, ultimately increasing public spending inside the kingdom.

The initiative is expected to alleviate disputes between local employers and expatriate workers relating to employee mobility or exit visa requests.

The reforms also allow expatriate workers in the kingdom to transfer their sponsorship from one employer to another, request exit/re-entry visas, and secure a final exit visa; all will now be approved automatically without requiring the employer’s consent.

The three services will be made available to the public through the smartphone application “Absher” and the Ministry’s electronic web portal.

The reforms will complement several similar initiatives to improve the efficiency of the local job market, including the Wage Protection System (WPS), the electronic documentation of all labour contracts, and launching “Widy” mechanism for out of court settlement of labour disputes.

The announcement comes in the wake of local media reports last week, that suggested Saudi Arabia was set to announce major labour reforms that could effectively end its “kafala” system for foreign workers.

Read: Saudi Arabia plans to revamp labour system, report says

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