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Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms to ‘kafala’ sponsorship system come into effect

Written by The Frontier Post

RIYADH (Agencies): Sa-udi Arabia’s promised ref-orms to improve on its “kafala” sponsorship system announced last Nove-mber officially comes into effect on Sunday, which w-ill see expatriate workers enjoy job mobility and freedom to enter and exit the Kingdom without the need for an employer’s permission.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development last N-ovember announced it wo-uld implement starting Ma-rch 2021 new conditions u-nder which expatriate wor-kers in Saudi Arabia can benefit from with the aim of improving the kafala sp-onsorship system.

The new conditions include stipulations that will allow migrant workers to transfer to other jobs upon the expiry of their work contract without the need for their former employer’s approval.

The newly reformed laws pertaining to foreign labor workers also include transition mechanisms during the validity of the contract, provided that the notice period and the specified controls are adhered to. It also provides an exit and return service, which allows a migrant worker to travel outside Saudi Arabia, upon submitting the application, with an online notification to the employer without the need to seek prior permission.

A ‘final exit’ stipulation will also enable a migrant worker to leave immediately after the end of their contract, with an online notification sent to an employer without requiring his or her consent.

The reformed system will also address exceptional cases where workers were not provided with a work contract or who did not receive their salaries.

The kafala system in Sa-udi Arabia previously tied workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are respo-nsible for the employees’ visa and legal status. The new law would limit the relationship between empl-oyers and expatriate workers under the system, who primarily work in construction and domestic work.

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