The new Saudi Labor Law, which was issued in 1426H through a royal decree, does not mention the sponsorship system, the spokesman of the Labor Ministry said yesterday.
He was commenting on a request made by the National Society for Human Rights to scrap the country’s sponsorship system.
Hattab Al-Anazi, told Alsharq Arabic daily: “At present the sponsor is referred as employer.”
He said the relation between employer and worker would be determined by a contract.
In a previous statement Deputy Labor Minister Ahmad Al-Humaidan said the ministry had started taking practical steps aimed at scrapping the sponsorship (kafala) system.
He added: “We have already begun changing some technical terms related to the sponsorship system, like changing the term ‘transfer of sponsorship’ (naql kafala) to ‘transfer of services.’
“Other steps include preventing sponsors from holding passports of foreign workers and canceling the condition to obtain the sponsor’s approval for workers to bring their families to the Kingdom.”
Al-Humaidan noted the ministry replaced several provisions in the kafala system with new regulations that govern the relationship between the employer and the foreign worker.
“If you look at any of these regulations, you can’t see anything that is pointing to the sponsorship system.
“The ministry was able to remove all the restrictions imposed by sponsors on their workers.”The deputy minister said scrapping the sponsorship system and easing restrictions on the labor market should be taken into account in the right perspective.
“It does not mean that a foreigner can enter the Kingdom and then search for a job in the local employment market. This doesn’t make any sense and should not happen in the Kingdom.” Al-Humaidan emphasized the ministry was striving hard to protect the rights of foreign workers without harming the interests of their employers. Al-Anazi said the ministry has introduced a number of corrective measures to reorganize the labor market and increase employment opportunities for Saudis in the private sector.
The spokesman said some of the observations made by NSHR about the ministry were contrary to the facts. Referring to NSHR comment on the Nitaqat program, Al-Anazi said it was instrumental in creating 242,000 new jobs for Saudis within a year, including 54,000 jobs for women. “You should know that we were able to fill only 71,000 jobs since employment of women began several years ago.”