Saudi Arabia is set to abolish the controversial restrictions on foreign laborers in an attempt to revamp the kingdom’s job market mobility and to address the rampant abuse and exploitation against migrant workers in the country.
Saudi Arabia is set to pass reforms that would remove several key restrictions on foreign laborers in an attempt to revamp the kingdom’s job market mobility and to address the rampant abuse and exploitation against migrant workers, the Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development (MHRSD) announced on Wednesday.
According to the ministry, the amendment of the restrictions would no longer require foreign laborers to gain their employer’s permission to change jobs, travel abroad, and secure visas to leave the country permanently.
Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Abdullah bin Nasser Abuthnain said the new rules, also called as “Labor Relation Initiative” will come into effect on March 14. This would apply to all of the kingdom’s foreign workers, regardless of their salary levels.
The removal of the key restrictions is expected to create significant impacts on the lives of about 10.5 million foreign workers who make up approximately a third of Saudi Arabia’s total population.
“These changes are not small changes — it’s huge,” said Sattam Alharbi, deputy minister for inspection and development of the work environment at MHRSD. “We aim to achieve more inclusion for Saudis, attract talent, improve the working conditions, make Saudi Arabia’s labor market more dynamic and productive.”
Alharbi also said that the government had been working to overhaul the controversial labor policies of the kingdom for two years to improve the working conditions of migrant laborers and attract overseas talent to work in the country.
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