Saudi claims abolishment of kafala, but colossal gaps remain, says Labour Migration Expert

Saudi Arabia has removed its Kafala system and implemented a new Kafala sponsorship system. However, Some organizations denounced and expressed that this practice will not stop until work...

Saudi Arabia has removed its Kafala system and implemented a new Kafala sponsorship system. However, Some organizations denounced and expressed that this practice will not stop until work...
Saudi Arabia has removed its Kafala system and implemented a new Kafala sponsorship system. However, Some organizations denounced and expressed that this practice will not stop until work...

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia has removed its Kafala system and implemented a new Kafala sponsorship system. However, Some organizations denounced and expressed that this practice will not stop until work and residence visas are bound to a “Kafeel” or sponsor.

What people have to say?

A Labour Migration Expert & India Director, Namrata Raju, tweeted, “Saudi claims today that it has abolished kafala, but colossal gaps remain. The reforms exclude four mill workers on short-term visas; migrant workers still need MHRSD approval for exit/entry, and migrant workers remain vulnerable to fake abscission charges by employers.”

An organization Equidem.org tweeted, “Today changes to # SaudiArabia’s labor law come into effect. The government says this ends the exploitative #kafala system. But @Equidem is concerned the reforms do not address discriminatory laws and policies that put millions of #migrantworkers at risk of #modernslavery

What is the kafala system?

The kafala system is a practice used to watch migrant laborers working fundamentally in the construction and domestic areas in Gulf Cooperation Council member domains and a few neighboring nations, namely-Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates. 

What is the Kafala sponsorship system?

Under this, migrant workers working now living there will be able to change jobs on their own. Workers of other countries will also get the benefit of this. Now, these people will also be able to move according to their own country.

The discussion has been initiated in the first week of November 2020; Saudi Arabia had talked about making changes in its Kafala system and implementing the new Kafala sponsorship system. It has now been officially implemented on Sunday. 

Under the kingdom’s revised policy, migrant workers can switch jobs upon their work contract expiry. Workers will also be able to transfer jobs during their contract’s validity, provided they report their employers within a set timeframe. Workers will also be exempt from “exit authorization,” enabling them to travel indefinitely without their employers’ permission.

The Ministry of Human Resources & Social-Development of Saudi Arabia has given information in this regard. The ministry says that under these reforms, foreign employees will be allowed to work from one place to another, leave jobs, re-enter the country, and secure a final withdrawal visa without their employer’s consent. Workers living in Saudi Arabia will now be able to apply for government services directly.

The ministry has also stated that under the new Kafala sponsorship program, the contracts with the company owners will now be put online. Earlier, migrant laborers were not allowed to do anything like this without the permission of the company. Most workers were demonstrated fear of visas.

Abdullah bin Nasir Abuthunayan, a Saudi minister, had earlier said that he wanted to create a better labor market in the country. It was said to provide a better environment for the laborers working in Saudi Arabia.

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