Credit By: Construction Week
Saudi Arabia is taking decisive steps to regulate its labor market and crack down on illegal foreign labor. As part of this effort, a new penalty system has been introduced to discourage employers from hiring undocumented or illegal workers. The system, set to take effect from this week, includes strict fines for various violations.
Penalties for Laborers Escaping During Inspections:
One of the key provisions of the new penalty system is aimed at employers whose workers escape during official inspections. This violation is considered grave, and employers will face a substantial fine of SR10,000 for each worker who escapes without any prior warning. Furthermore, the workplace will be subject to a mandatory 14-day shutdown. The penalty increases if such violations recur.
Penalties for Unauthorized Reopening of Closed Establishments:
A serious violation within the new system pertains to establishments that remove the official closure notices placed by authorities or reopen their premises without proper approval. Such offenses are met with a hefty fine of SR40,000. This stern approach is intended to deter employers from ignoring official orders and making unauthorized adjustments.
Penalties for Denying Inspector Access:
In line with its commitment to strict oversight, the Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Village Affairs is particularly stringent about ensuring inspectors have access to all areas within workplaces. Denying access to inspectors constitutes a grave breach and results in a penalty of SR10,000. This regulation emphasizes the importance of transparency and cooperation with regulatory authorities.
Penalties for Withholding Products or Services Without Justification:
The penalty system also addresses non-grave violations. Employers who refrain from selling a product or providing a service without proper justification receive an initial warning. Subsequently, they are granted a 14-day deadline to rectify the situation. Failure to comply within this timeframe will lead to a fine of SR3,000. This approach ensures that businesses in Saudi Arabia have legitimate reasons for withholding products or services from the market.
Enhanced Crackdown on Illegal Foreign Labor:
Over the past several months, Saudi authorities have intensified their efforts to curtail illegal foreign labor in the country. Thousands of individuals who have violated the kingdom’s labor laws have been arrested, signaling the government’s commitment to enforcing labor regulations rigorously.
Labor Reforms and Job Mobility:
Saudi Arabia’s labor reforms, introduced in late 2020 and implemented in March 2021, have been pivotal in reshaping the labor landscape. These reforms include substantial changes to the sponsorship system and have significantly improved the rights and mobility of migrant workers. Workers now have greater job mobility and can transfer between employers upon the expiration of their work contracts without needing their current employer’s consent. This has been a major step toward ensuring fair labor practices and providing a better working environment for both employers and employees.
The new penalty system represents a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to regulate its labor market and clamp down on the employment of illegal laborers. The strict fines and penalties for employers underscore the government’s determination to ensure compliance with labor laws. As Saudi Arabia continues to modernize and strengthen its labor regulations, it is expected that these measures will contribute to a more transparent and orderly labor market, benefiting both businesses and workers.
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