Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development on Wednesday launched the Labour Reform Initiative (LRI) under its National Transformation Programme.
The initiative aims to support the ministry's vision of establishing an attractive job market, empowering and developing labour competencies and developing the work environment in the Kingdom, reports the Saudi Gazette.
The reforms – which are due to come into effect on 14 March next year – would activate the contractual agreement between the employees and employers based on their employment contract through digital documentation, which would contribute to reducing the disparity between Saudi workers and the expatriates.
This, in turn, would reflect positively on the job market by increasing the employment opportunities for Saudis while also increasing the attractiveness of the local job market for top talent.
Employee mobility will allow expatriate workers to transfer between employers upon the expiry of the binding work contract without the employer's consent. This initiative will also allow job mobility and regulate Exit and Re-Entry Visa issuance.
It will apply to all expatriate workers in the private sector and includes specific control measures put in place to take into account the rights of both parties of the contractual relationship.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development stated that the initiative will improve and increase the efficiency of the work environment in Saudi Arabia plus complement similar initiatives launched in this regard, such as: the wage protection system, digital documentation of work contracts, a labour education and awareness initiative, and the launch of Wedy for settling labour disputes.
The LRI seeks to increase the flexibility, effectiveness and competitiveness of the labour market and raise its attractiveness in line with the best international practices as well as Saudi labour laws.
The initiative also outlines conditions applicable during the validity of the contract, provided that a notice period and specific measures are adhered to.
The Exit and Re-Entry Visa reforms will allow expatriate workers to travel outside Saudi Arabia without the employer's approval after submitting a request, and the employer will be notified electronically of their departure.
The Final Exit Visa reforms will also allow expatriate workers to leave Saudi Arabia, after the end of their employment contracts, without their employers' consent, and will notify the employer electronically with the worker bearing all consequences – financial or otherwise – relating to breaking the employment contract.
All three services will be made available to the public through the smartphone application Absher and Qiwa portal of the Saudi ministry.
The LRI has been introduced to enhance the competitiveness of the local Saudi labour market and puts it on par with similar international markets. It would also increase its ranking on international competitiveness indicators as it elevates the labour regulations to international practices in line with signed labour conventions.
Around 22 lakh Bangladeshis are working in Saudi Arabia, according to an unofficial estimate.