New guidelines have laid down the exceptional circumstances under which expat workers may change jobs in a step that will further improve labor conditions in the Kingdom.
As part of its Labor Reform Initiative (LRI), the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development designated the exceptional situations in which foreign workers are permitted to move to a new workplace without the prior consent of their employer. Under normal circumstances, foreign workers must work for a year before they can move jobs.
The LRI, which will take effect on March 14, 2021, specifies that employees are allowed to transfer to another company in the absence of a certified employment contract — employers have three months from the start of the employment to authenticate the employee’s work contract.
Employees may also change jobs if they have received no payment for three consecutive months, if their employer is absent for reasons such as imprisonment or death, or if their employer has refused to renew their work or resident permit.
A further exceptional circumstance is when the worker is a victim of human trafficking or when a foreign worker has reported a commercial cover-up by their employer, provided the worker has not been involved in the cover-up.
Finally, a transfer may be effected when, during a labor dispute between the worker and current employer, the employers or their representative does not attend two of the legal sessions in court or fails to attend two arbitration sessions.