Saudi says foreign worker ban won’t apply to all car rental jobs

The ban comes into force on March 18

An upcoming deadline for Saudi car rental offices to cut foreign staff will not apply to all workers, the kingdom’s labour ministry has said.

The clarification comes amid reports that a large number of firms could be preparing to shut their doors to avoid penalties of up to SAR20,000 ($5,333) per foreign worker employed.

Read: Saudi car rental offices shut shop as foreign worker ban nears

In a warning to firms a week ahead of the ban coming into force next Sunday, ministry spokesman Khalid Aba Al-Khail clarified that roles to be filled by Saudis include “accounting, supervision, sales, receipt and delivery” positions.

The ministry has been providing training and support programmes to prepare Saudis to fill these roles through online channels including the national employment portal.

Post March 18 the ministry’s inspectors will be monitoring firms for violations of the Saudisation drive.

Fines initially will be based on the number of foreign workers employed illegally and doubled in the case of repeated violations.

Read: Saudi to ban foreigners from work in car rental offices

The ministry has introduced similar bans on the employment of foreign workers for other jobs in gold and jewellery stores, shops selling female-specific items and most recently a number of retail roles.

A Saudisation initiative in the mobile phone accessories sector in 2016 saw thousands of shops shut down as owners either closed voluntarily or fell foul of inspectors.

Read: Another 1,000 Saudi mobile shops shut from Sept-Nov

Last month, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofAML) said in a report that recent bans on employing foreign workers in some sectors, including 12 retail roles announced in January, could see tens of thousands of expats lose their jobs this year.

Read: Saudi work ban could see tens of thousands of expats lose their jobs