RIYADH: The General Directorate of Passports, known as Jawazat, clarified that an employer who allows his expatriate worker to work for others or as self-employed will face penalties including a fine, jail time, deportation, or a ban from recruitment.
Jawazat wrote in a tweet: “Any employer who enables his workers to work for others or to be self-employed shall be subject to these penalties: A fine up to SR100,000 ($27,000), deportation if he is an expatriate in the Kingdom, imprisonment for a period up to six months, or a ban from recruitment for a period up to five years. Fines shall be multiplied according to the number of persons involved.”
Jawazat called on the public to report those who violate residency and border security regulations by calling 911 in Riyadh and Makkah and 999 in all other regions of the Kingdom.
Welcoming the move, Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, advisor and professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, told Arab News: “The penalties for employers mentioned by Jawazat is a step in the right direction. It’s time to better regulate the labor market since a large percentage of crimes are committed by unlawful foreign workers. It is also important to punish those who benefit financially from such workers without actually being their employers.
“Going against these regulations creates security, economic, and social problems that affect our national interests.”
The professor went on to explain that obeying the law was also in the interests of foreign workers, as working in the absence of a “real and credible employer” would not guarantee the protection of their rights.
It is expected with this new directive that many employers and businesses will take the initiative to transfer unneeded workers under their sponsorship, he said.
“Such workers are creating a problem in the labor market since most of them do not have enough work, which raises their unemployment levels. Also, most of these laborers do not have the proper skill sets required by the Saudi labor market, which makes them a burden to the economic and social fabric of the nation,” he added.
Al-Obaidy further explained that the effect of such unlawful labor also weakens the Saudi economic infrastructure, bringing unregulated workers into competition with Saudi and legitimate foreign workers.
“Legally employed foreigners will benefit from this directive through the elimination of redundant illegal workers. This will also lead to the restructuring of many small and medium-sized firms that are controlled by such labor,” he added.
The Saudi economy is suffering from unregulated labor also due to the high consumption of energy and water and high demand for housing.
“This directive will lead to fairer competition by reducing the increased pressure on the Saudi economic infrastructure created by such workers,” the professor added.
Remittances made by such workers negatively affect the economy as well, he said, adding that it is difficult to determine the actual amounts earned since a percentage is made through illegal methods, like money laundering. If this money is instead invested inside Saudi Arabia, it will add substantially to its gross domestic product and its economic growth.
Saudi labor courts issued more than 110,000 rulings in two years257,000 expats leave the Saudi labor market in Q3 2020: Official figures