23 November Monday

Saudi set to scrap sponsorship system, new system in the pipeline

Anas YassinUpdated: Thursday Oct 29, 2020

 Manama: Saudi Arabia, which is home to more than one crore expats, plans to introduce new rules governing foreign labour instead of the current sponsorship (kafala) system, according to a media report.

The new systems, aimed at improving the contractual link between migrant workers and employers, are scheduled to be unveiled as early as next week, the online Maal newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources.

The new methods would be applied from the first half of 2021, benefiting lakhs of expat workers in the kingdom, it added.

Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development is behind the move, which is considered as major labour reforms that could effectively abolish it’s much criticized “kafala” system for foreign workers.

The changes were to be disclosed earlier this year but were delayed by the pandemic, according to the news outlet.

Commenting on the report, spokesman for the Ministry of Human Resources Nasser Al Hazani said the ministry is working on several initiatives to “regulate and develop” the labour market.

“These initiatives will be announced when they are ready,” he said in a tweet. “The ministry calls for obtaining information from its official sources,” he was quoted as saying by Gulf News.

However, the ministry is set to hold a press conference next week to outline reforms to “increase the competitiveness, attractiveness, and flexibility of the Saudi labour market in accordance with international standards, Bloomberg reported citing an invitation sent to journalists.

Foreigners make up around 1.05 crore of Saudi’s total population of 3.48 crore.