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MOVE BOON TO MILLIONS OF EXPATS

Saudi to scrap sponsorship system, bring in work contract

RIYADH, October 28, 2020

Saudi Arabia is set to abolish the sponsorship system effective from the first half of 2021, a landmark move which is set to benefit over one million expatriates, reported Saudi Gazette, citing a report in Maaal online business daily.
 
Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development will make the official announcement in this regard in the coming week, stated the report. The historic initiative is aimed at improving the contractual relationship between expatriate workers and their employers, it added.
 
The sponsorship system, which has been in force for around seven decades, will be replaced by a work contract that regulates the relationship between employers and foreign workers. 
 
Under the system known as the kafala, a worker is obligated to work for his sponsor, and they cannot work for another employer unless the sponsorship is transferred through formal channels.
 
This system ties workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are responsible for the employees’ visa and legal status, stated the report.
 
Now, with the abolition of the system, the foreign workers will also have freedom of movement according to what is stipulated in the work contract.
 
It will give expatriate workers freedom to secure exit and re-entry visas, receive the final passport exit stamp without a sponsor, and gain employment without the approval from a sponsor, the Saudi Gazette report said.
 
This is part of other initiatives that seek to improve the quality of life of expatriates, especially for housing and entertainment. The move would be the latest in a series of economic reforms being carried out in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, it added.



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