Saudi Arabia: Domestic workers excluded from labour reforms

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Saudi labour reforms, drastically revamping the country’s sponsorship system, do not apply to domestic workers, according to a media report.

The initiative of improving contractual relationship does not cover domestic workers including chauffeurs, gardeners and home guards, Sabq online newspaper reported, citing the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

On Wednesday, the ministry launched major labour reforms, allowing job mobility and regulating the exit and re-entry visa issuance for expatriate workers without employers’ approval.

Millions of migrant workers stand to benefit from the reforms, which will come into effect on March 14, 2021. The ministry said the initiative applies to all expatriate workers in the private sector and features specific control measures protecting rights of employees and employers.

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Employee mobility will allow expatriate workers to transfer between employers upon the expiry of the binding work contract without the employer’s consent. The exit and re-entry visa reforms will allow expatriate workers to travel outside Saudi Arabia without the employers’ approval after submitting a request, the ministry explained.

The final exit visa reforms will allow the foreign worker to leave the kingdom after the end of the employment contract without the consent of the employer who will be electronically notified. The worker will bear all consequences for breaking the contract.

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The ministry said that the reforms are aimed to increase flexibility, effectiveness and competitiveness of the labour market in the kingdom.

Foreigners make up around 10.5 million of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 34.8 million.

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