Riyadh city skyline
Riyadh city skyline at night. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has banned employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of race, colour, sex, age, disability, marital status, or any other form of discrimination, according to new reforms to human resources laws.

Under the reforms, employers must provide suitable housing for workers, an appropriate means of transportation from their place of residence to the workplace, and may replace that with an appropriate cash allowance.

The employers must refrain from forcing workers into labor, and not withhold without a judicial authority the workers’ wage or part of it, treat workers with respect, and refrain from any statement or action that affects their dignity and religion, the reforms state.

In addition, workers should be given the necessary time to exercise their rights stipulated in the law without deduction from wages in exchange for this time, and the employer may regulate the exercise of this right in a manner that does not prejudice the progress of work.

On November 4, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launched a reform to replace the sponsorship system (kafala in Arabic), which governs foreign worker mobility in Saudi Arabia.

Prior to the reforms, foreign workers sponsored by employers in Saudi Arabia required the permission of their employer to change jobs, open a bank account, travel out of the country and do other administrative tasks.

These reforms are meant to advance the country’s objective of diversifying its oil-dependent economy by increasing transparency in the employment process and streamlining immigration rules.