New Rules for Foreign Workers in Saudi Arabia
On March 24, the Labor Ministry announced that expatriates will have to work a minimum of two years with their current employer in order to get the approval for their sponsorship to be transfer to another. Until recently, workers were able to change jobs after six months with their employers’ consent.
This extension in waiting periods, enforced since April 15, aims to stabilize employer-employee relations and reduce negative impact expat movements were having in the job market.
“Some companies recruit workers in order to transfer their services to others. This practice had a negative impact on employment of Saudis,” said Abdul Rahman Al-Bawaridi, deputy minister for labor affairs.
Although this measure may discourage private institutions from shifting workers to other company after hiring them or selling visas, certain jobs will still require a sponsorship transfer in less than two year, according to Abdullah Marei Bin Mahfouz, a member of Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) board of directors.
“The new decision is part of the government’s efforts to restructure the labor sector,” Bin Mahfouz explains.
To date, more than six million expatriates live in Saudi Arabia and most foreign workers are required to complete a range of development projects.
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