Nearly 2m expats change sponsorship in 3 years

File photo shows expats waiting to finalize procedures to either transfer their residency to a new company or stamp exit to leave the country.

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Nearly two million expat workers have transferred their services from one company or employer to another during the past three years, with Pakistanis and Indians accounting for 35 percent of the total figure, said the Labor and Social Development Ministry.

According to statistics obtained by Al-Eqtisadiah business daily, the year 2016 witnessed 21 percent fall in the number of expats who transferred their sponsorships as the figure stood at 480,221, against 608808 in 2015 and 798,911 in 2014 with the three-year figure totaling 1,887,940.

Expat workers in the Riyadh region and Eastern Province topped the list, accounting for 40 percent of workers who changed their sponsorship during the three-year period.

The report comes after the Ministry of Labor and Social Development allowed maids and other house servants to transfer their sponsorship to other employers if there is a delay in payment of salaries from the existing employer for three consecutive months.

Labor and Social Development Minister Dr. Ali Al-Ghafees has issued his directives allowing maids and other house servants to transfer their sponsorships in 13 cases. The move aims at making Saudi Arabia an attractive market for domestic helpers.

House helps are also allowed to transfer sponsorship if the employer fails to receive them at the port of arrival or fails to provide them with shelter within 15 days after arrival and if he/she did not issue resident permit (iqama) or renew iqamas within 30 days after its expiry.

“Domestic helps can also apply for sponsorship transfer if the existing sponsor or a member of his family mistreat them,” the directive said. Other cases are: If the worker has a genuine complaint against the employer or the latter prevented authorities from looking into the complaint or if the employer gives false formation that the worker was absconding or if the employer fails to attend two sessions of court hearings continuously to look into the complaint.

Domestic helps can also transfer sponsorships on the advice of the labor committee that looks into the complaint in order to safeguard them from possible harm from the previous employer.

They are also allowed to transfer sponsorship if the employer is not capable of paying salaries for three consecutive months or for any other reason sanctioned by the minister.

The new sponsor will have the right to check the worker for 15 days before transferring sponsorship and has to pay the agreed salary during that period, Al-Eqtisadiah reported.