On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia has announced to ease its key restrictions on millions of foreign workers.
According to the details, Human rights groups have asked the Kingdom repeatedly to end its “kafala” sponsorship system, described as a modern form of slavery by critics, that only allows workers to their Saudi employers.
The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said that workers will no longer need their employer’s permission from March 14 to change jobs, travel, or leave Saudi Arabia.
“This initiative will improve and increase the efficiency of the work environment,” the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
“The exit and re-entry visa reforms allow expatriate workers to travel… without the employer’s approval after submitting a request, (and) the employer will be notified electronically of their departure,” it said.
“These changes are not small changes — it’s huge,” deputy minister at the ministry, Sattam Alharbi said on Wednesday during an interview.
“We aim to achieve more inclusion for Saudis, attract talent, improve the working conditions, make Saudi Arabia’s labor market more dynamic and productive.”
The new regulations, however, will not be applicable to the Kingdom’s 3.7 million domestic workers.
It is pertinent to mention here that the previous week Human Rights Watch said that Saudi Arabia had one of the most restrictive kafala systems in the Gulf, which it said facilitates “abuse and exploitation including forced labor, trafficking, and slavery-like conditions”.
“Saudi Arabia’s wealth and economy have been built on the backs of millions of migrant workers and it is time for deep-rooted change to accord them the legal protection and guarantees for their rights that they deserve,” it said.