Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia has launched labour reforms boosting rights of millions of migrant workers in the country. Image Credit: Agency

Cairo: Saudi Arabia today unveiled major labour reforms, allowing job mobility and regulating the exit and re-entry visa issuance for expatriate workers without employers' approval.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social development said its labour reform initiative (LRI) aims to enhance the contractual relationship between workers and employers and support establishing an attractive job market in the kingdom.

The reforms, to take effect on March 14, 2021, applies to all expatriate workers and features specific control measures heeding rights of both parties of the contractual relationship, the ministry said in a statement. Foreigners make up around 10.5 million of Saudi Arabia’s total population of 34.8 million.

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.

The ministry said that LRI seeks to increase flexibility, effectiveness and competitiveness of the labour market in the kingdom.