Diplomats praise new labor reforms in Saudi Arabia

Time: 05 November 2020

An Asian laborer climbs a ladder as he works at the construction site of a building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters/File)
  • The initiative will make the Saudi labor market more efficient, protect the interests of both the workers and the employers

RIYADH: Heads of diplomatic missions in Riyadh welcomed the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) on Wednesday, which will improve the contractual relationship between workers and employers.

Launched by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD), the initiative also aims to make the Saudi job market more attractive.

Speaking to Arab News, Pakistani Ambassador to the Kingdom Raja Ali Ejaz said: “We congratulate MHRSD for launching LRI for private sector workers, to be implemented with effect from March 14, 2021.”

He said that the reforms are expected to benefit Pakistani workers. “The LRI is introducing the best international practices in the developed countries vis-a-vis the Saudi Labor Law, benefitting workers and employers. It activates the contractual agreement between employer and employee through digital documentation which will reduce disparity.”

He said they would alleviate the problems of those workers who sign work agreements in Pakistan and then are asked to sign another agreement in the Kingdom.

The reforms will also allow expatriate workers to transfer between employers after their contract expires, without the need for the employer’s consent.

“It will greatly help Pakistani workers to search for new jobs while living in the Kingdom,” he added. “All such facilities will be made available to all the expat workers through the Absher and Qiwa mobile apps on the ministry’s portal. The ministry will launch an online portal named Wedy for the settlement of labor disputes, which are welcome reforms.”

Indian Ambassador Ausaf Sayeed said that his embassy welcomed the ministry’s reforms, which are “well appreciated and a step in the right direction.”

“The initiative will make the Saudi labor market more efficient, protect the interests of both the workers and the employers, and go a long way in making the work environment in the Kingdom more attractive to expatriate workers,” he said.

Indonesian Ambassador Agus Maftuh Abegebriel said that the initiative will improve the legal protection for expats working in Saudi Arabia “through a better contractual relationship between workers and employers.”

He said: “Indonesia, as one of the states sending the most migrant workers to the Kingdom, regards the initiative as an improvement for expatriates’ working environment.”

It will also contribute to the competitiveness of the Kingdom’s job market in attracting global talent to join the labour force in the Kingdom, said the envoy.

The embassy expressed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s agencies before the regulations come into force in March next year, Abegebriel said.

Bangladesh Ambassador Dr. Mohammad Javed Patwary said that his government is looking forward to sending more skilled workers in the near future after the new reforms, which in line with the realization of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan.

“The Embassy of Bangladesh hopes that more than 2 million Bangladeshi expatriates living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will benefit through these initiatives,”he said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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