Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Employment contract in Saudi Arabia

As mentioned in my earlier post, the most important document for any expatriate planning to work in Saudi Arabia is the job contract with his employer. Please be aware that this contract has to be in Arabic for it to be an official document. Usually, the contract is in both Arabia as well as English, but the text contained in Arabic is what is considered legally as final and binding <):)

In some cases, the employer will make you sign an English contract in your home country and follow it up with an Arabic contract as soon as you arrive in the kingdom. This could be a bit tricky, so please ensure that your sponsor is a reputed employer. Also, as I have been repeatedly stressing earlier too, do not go by any verbal assurances. There are scores of instances when people have been promised a salary back home and are paid far lower than what they where promised after they arrived in the kingdom :( There is nothing which you can do about it in such cases, because your passport will be with your sponsor and you will not even be able to get out of the country without his knowledge. In short, you virtually become his slave. Of course, this is not to generalize all Saudi sponsors under the same category - there are good employers too and some of them even go out of their way to help their employees.

The contract for an expatriate worker in Saudi Arabia has to be necessarily for a fixed period of time. Make sure that your probation period mentioned in the contract does not exceed 90 days, as required by Saudi labor law. Please note that sick leave and the public holidays for Eid (just after Ramadan) and Hajj holidays are excluded

If you are looking for working in Saudi Arabia, you must be aware of your rights as a worker. The entire cost of bringing you from the home country, visa processing fees, renewal of work visa and the cost of air tickets back to the home country is the responsibility of the sponsor. Do not sign any contract in which you have to pay for these, because it is your sponsor's responsibility to bear these expenses.

More posts will follow about this and other interesting topics on working in Saudi Arabia. If you liked this information, do write your comments here which will motivate me to write more.




71 comments:

pans said...

thanks buddy.. your blog is really help full .........

Anonymous said...

Dear expatguru

well done and keep it up.....

I have received a work contract with a clause to say that the contract lasted for 2 years and will be renewed automatically unless terminated according to the annex 1 (which refers to the Labor law)

My future employer said earlier that this is a permanent employment and not contract.Some people I asked related this condition to the validity of work visa which last for only 2 years....what's your thoughts on this???

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

First of all you should realize that the only thing certain in Saudi Arabia is uncertainty! There is no such thing as a permanent employment for expatriates. What your employer means is that subject to his being satisfied with you, your contract would be renewed every two years. However, remember that even before two years, your contract can be terminated at any point of time as per law in which case your sponsor would normally have to compensate you.

However, it is practically impossible to fight your sponsor and get your dues if this ever happens. This is not scare you, but just to make you realize that working in Saudi Arabia is not a bed of roses. The moment you cross the first two years, it is simply 30 days notice on either side as per law. For all practical purposes, you can take it that either before or after two years, you can be terminated at any point of time. By the way, these days work visas are given annually, not once in two years.

saudi arabia said...

keep it up, expatguru! this kind of info help, which I'll certainly tell my friends about, especially terms such as Arabic contract binding, reputed sponsor, visa processing fee and air ticket stuff. Tks

saifulla. c.m.p said...

Hi ExpatGuru,
I have been working in saudi arabia as a mechanical engineer since jan 2009.In my Iqama my job profession is Engineer,my employment contract is open contract.My probation period is not completed yet.Now I got a better offer in QATAR,they need medical certificate for VISA Processing.Is it possible to conduct medical from saudi arabia?As per saudi labour law it says in probation period both the employer and employee can end the contract,is this possible.If I went to India on emergency exit/reentry VISA can i go to QATAR.
I am very confused,i have little experience in middle east in VISA matters,your detailed advice is highly appreciated,Earlier you have replied to my some queries through this blog.
Regards,
SAIFU

Expatguru said...

Saifu,

You can resign at any point of time. However, since you are on probation, it is quite likely that your passport has been given for making your iqama. If not, getting it back is easy. Otherwise, you will have to wait till you get your iqama and then again give it for cancellation. You may probably have to pay for your return ticket.

Ashish said...

HI EXPATGURU,

I just had one question to ask. The issue of surrendering my passport to my employer .. is that legal and compulsary?

If yes, do you know why?

Regegards
Ashish Saluja
ashish.saluja@gmail.com

Expatguru said...

Ashish,

This is one of the most contentious issues of expats. There is absolutely no legal basis for a sponsor to hold his employee's passport. However, like so many other things (such as women not supposed to drive, even though there is no written law on this), this is more a trend which has been followed for quite a long time. I personally know expats who have both their iqama as well as their passports with them. But this is purely a decision of the sponsor. In any case, having the passport in your hand does not mean automatic exit from the kingdom when you wish, because you would still need an exit visa for it. In general, it is "customary" (not legal) for the sponsor to hold your passport and issue an iqama instead.

Ashish said...

thanks a lot for the prompt response

Anonymous said...

HI EXPATGURU!

Your blogspot is a big help! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

thanks you help us a lot!!!
my question is what if my agency in my home country give us the document saying that we have to pay certain amount (placement fee)when we arrive in the kingdom and the we signed it not knowingly that this amount should be at the expense of the employer or the sponsor?is there any remedy on this?or could it be revoke here in the kingdom because the contract we signed here is different from what we have signed in our home country.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

What you sign in your home country has no legal validity here. Make sure with your employer whether he is going to reimburse you any placement fee.

Anonymous said...

a million thanks to you!!!
my quesion is this,base on my contract of employement here in saudi i am hired as an accountant but i'm also doing a secretarial job also, and im only receiving 1,500 SAR including my food allowance of 200 SAR, how much is really the minimum wage here for an accountant?am i underpaid according to saudi law?because my friends keep on saying that im not rightfully paid.
my second question is about my reimbursement of my placement fee, what if he does not agree on it?what should i do legally?to whom should i go with?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

SR1500 is definitely an extremely low salary for a white-collared job. This is the current rate for an unskilled helper. Legally there is nothing much you can do about the reimbursement of placement fee if it is not mentioned in the contract. It is obvious that you are being fleeced. Get out of this company immediately!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
I am working for an european company which wants to send me for a period of two years of work to Saudi Arabia. This company cooperates with a company in Saudi Arabia. I shall get a european work contract with my employer and a saudi arabian work contract with the cooperation partner in Saudi Arabia. The european work contract is said to be valid for me and my employer. The Saudi Arabian work contract is said to be non-valid for me and is not going to applied but is necessary for the work permit. Is this true that this is a common practice? In which legal position I am going to be?
Thank you very much!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Be careful of what you sign. Remember that whatever you sign with the Saudi sponsor will be the legal and binding contract as long as you are in the kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Hi Expatguru - thanks alot for this valuable blog..

I work for a European company and they have offered me a package to go work for their joint venture in Saudi. They gave me a reasonable package which consists of salary and benefits (housing, car).

Initially they weighted it as 80% salary and 20% benefits. But now in the contract, they want to make it 70% salary and 30% benefits. They tell me that this will work out better for me in terms of pension and pay rises. But I'm not convinced.. is there a reason why they would want it like this?

Thanks
Jagz

Expatguru said...

Jagz,

Don't buy this story. Be firm in the 80%-20% agreement and DO NOT sign any document to the contrary. Also, NEVER EVER sign any document in Arabic, if you do not understand what is written there. It is obvious that they want to cut corners.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expatguru,

It is stated that "anyone who wishes to break an employment or business contract may have to pay substantial penalties before being allowed to leave Saudi Arabia." Do you have any idea what these penalties entail? Is it based on Sponsor policies?

Thanks, MO

Expatguru said...

MO,

First of all, it is not "stated" anywhere as you assume. Everything depends on your contract and if it is not mentioned in the contract, you pay nothing.

nazeer said...

hi expatguru,


i am a civil engineer and i have got a offer stating that my visa will be initially a labour visa and after 3months of period it will be changed to a engineer visa is this possible, and the consultency people says that after paying the money they will give me the offer letter in which it will be written as they will change my visa after 3months please help.

and this company(al haz) is from jeddah.

please help me i will be very much thank full to you.

Expatguru said...

Nazeer,

Thank God you asked me this query. Note that it is IMPOSSIBLE to change our visa category from labour to any other profession. Never ever fall prey to such unscruplous agents. Either get a proper engineer visa or not at all.

Expatguru said...

Nazeer,

Thank God you asked me this query. Note that it is IMPOSSIBLE to change our visa category from labour to any other profession. Never ever fall prey to such unscruplous agents. Either get a proper engineer visa or not at all.

Anonymous said...

hi expatguru,

My contract will end this coming March 2010 and I want to have an exit. I informed my employer regarding this matter. I actually submitted notification letter one month before my end of contract and talked personally. But my employer refused for my exit application. My employer said that he still needed my services(I am working as an IT here). So, he offered me some increase in my salary and other benefits, etc... and my employer asked me to think about it so I gave him 3 days for that. Now, I want to have my exit and pursue my career in my hometown. Is it legal to extend my service , even my contract will end on March 6, 2010? for how long? and I want to know regarding my benefits which I am going to receive when I had my exit. This is my first 2 years contract. How much would it be if I have 2400SR Basic Salary plus 400SR Housing Allowance?
Thank you very much and more power!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link given in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for this. This helps me segregate spam from genuine requests while at the same time ensuring that you get a detailed personalized reply.

Anonymous said...

Dear Expat Guru,

Thanks for the hard work on the blog. it surely looks very helpful, i'd surely appreciate your comment on the following issue:

I work in a management consultancy in dubai and i have a project in Saudi. The sponsor in saudi issued a temporary work visa, and the visa requires a contract signed between the sponsor and the individual. However, the sponsor didn't send this contract, and i need to travel there asap (they only sent the invitation)

Now, I already applied for the visa in the consulate and done the payment and everything (seems they didn't notice the missing paper).
In case i got the visa, do you recommend going to saudi without the contract? is it dangerous? espcially at airports, do they check those stuff at passport control?

PS: the sponsor is one of the biggest companies in Saudi, if not the biggest, I;m not really sure how can they forget such an important document!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I give personalized detailed replies for a nominal fee. Please fill in your query in a form through the link given in the top right hand corner of this blog.

Anonymous said...

hi,
I am working in saudi in an automation and robotics division as an design engi. i am about to marry next year and my fiance in CS engineer. she wants to pursue a CS related job as she is working in home country in very good cmy. Is there any opprtunity for her. if not i have to call the marriage off as i love my job here. It's challenging than any other place. So plz let me know

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for this consultancy, which would give you a detailed personalized reply.

KRISHNA STRIKES AGAIN said...

Dear friend,

Iam here waiting here for ur reply, My Question:

I have signed contract for one year and waiting for Iqama. But i have not satified with job now. Meanwhile i got very good offer from saudi only now. just 1 week complete in my contract. if i want leave this company and want to join new co. in saudi, what is the procedure.....

but the above said other company knows that iam working here and said him that iam not satified here.

i got offer here 8000SR per month and 33%HRA and Car.... now i want o break the contract before probation.......... how it will be possible? please let me know/////////

Expatguru said...

Krishna Strikes Again,

Please fill in y our query using the form through the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed personalized reply.

Dayve Mustayne said...

Dear Expatguru,

Thank you very much for such useful information.

I have a question: the question is, i have been offered a job in Jeddah and its taking them time to arrange a work visa so they proposed me to come over on a visit visa and start working. As soon as i arrive in Jeddah and my name is entered in the system, my visa will not take that long. Shall i buy this story or not?


Its a European company and they don't sound tricky but i am not sure if i should go ahead with it or not because i know Saudi Arabia can become a prison especially when there are no civil laws for the expats.

Thank you very much in advance.

Expatguru said...

Dayve,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. ExpatGuru,

I'm working here in Saudi for 1 year now. My contract is for two years but for personal reason I want to end it by filing a resignation letter. My contract says that "Neither party may unilaterally cancel the contract except for legal, just & valid cause.
pr.(b) the employee may terminate this contract by serving 3 mos. advance notice to the employer. If no notice served, the employee shall shoulder all expenses relative to his repatriation back 2 his point of origin. My question is am I allowed to terminate my contract by resigning and will get free return ticket back home. Pls. advise me. Your reply is greatly appreciated. Thank you

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate your help and effort in guiding the people durin their most troubled some time of their lives. But, please don't forget that not all people visiting your site can afford to pay for your so-called nominal fee. Kindly be generous enough to distinguish between people who can afford to shoulder the fee and not. Again, your effort and generosity of helping & guiding people especially the expats. Again, your help and guidance to all the expats is highly commendable and I hope you will consider my request at greater extent. Thank you.

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments. For over 2 years, I was giving consultancy without taking a single penny. A point of time came when my Inbox became flooded with spam and absolutely reckless emails like "I need a job in Saudi". This blog is only my hobby, not my profession. I have a full-time job which I have to do, for which I am paid a salary and I have to do justice to it.

By the way, USD7 works out to approximately SR25. If there is someone who genuinely cannot afford to pay this amount, and I am convinced about the same, I would be more than glad to give a free consultancy. I have already been doing it on a case to case basis.

In my opinion, USD7 is certainly a nominal fee, whatever may be your opinion, and there is absolutely no compulsion on you to use my services. My price is to put a value for my time.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm a nurse here in Jeddah and I was wondering if you can help me on what to do.. My contract was not followed.. I applied as a clinic nurse but when I came here my employer made me a private nurse in which all negotiations before where changed.. like 8hrs became 12 or sometimes more.. 1 day off per week became no off at all and I am already 10 mos here..I tried to talk to my employer to tell him I want to go home but he said I can only go home if I finish my contract no buts and no if.. I really want to go home.. My patient sometimes beat me and they don't let me to go out here easily.. I don't know what to do.. I already asked our govt for help but no luck.. I was thinking of running away to our embassy but they are a powerful family and I am scared that they might catch me and bring me back and God knows what will happen.. Please give me an advice..

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

I feel so sorry for your situation, but you are not alone. Immediately contact your embassy in Riyadh and talk to them. Explain to them that you are undergoing physical torture and that you need to immediately go back home. If possible try to save enough money for your one way ticket. Ask your embassy for an emergency visa, which they should arrange. Everything depends on how strong your embassy is and to which extent they go to help you out. All the best!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Thanks for the priceless infos.
Anyway, I have a query.
I've been here in KSA for almost 6 months now and I haven't signed a contract yet since then. I've singned a contract back in the Phil but I was informed by someone that I will also have to sign a contract here upon arrival. Yet, no contract has been handed over to me to be signed.
Plus, I'm already a bit fed up with the company due to its stinginess that they don't compensate us accordingly and fairly. So I was referred by a friend to a bigger and better company and it turned out the interview and exams went well.
My question is, is it possible for me to quit my job either by getting a release then transfer or final exit and just come back here (if provided a visa by new employer) even without finishing the 2 year contract I signed back in the Phil and as per stated in my Job offer?
What consequences lies ahead of me?

Thanks and best regards,
CJ

Expatguru said...

CJ,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.

Bruckner said...

I have signed a job offer in my home country with a salary written on it. The employer said that the contract will be an extension to this signed job offer. I guess this is not the same thing as signing a contract which holds the title "Contract of Employment", right?

Hakali said...

Dear Sir,
I need to hire contractual employees of foreign nationality living within KSA. what documents do i require to obtain from the selected candidates e.g. NOC..

Secondly is it legal to hire an employee, who is sponsored by a Kafeel. but the kafeel agrees to give no objection certificate and allows him to work in my company.

Regards.
Hassan.

Expatguru said...

Hakali,

Please fill in your query through the link in the top right corner of this page. I charge a nominal fee for this which would give you a detailed personalized reply.

habibi said...

Habibi

Dear Sir,
I received a job of transmitter engineer offer in Saudi Naval Support. The job required five years experience which I have. The consultant in home town informed me that the salary will be 3300 riyals plus accommodation, transport and medical expenses. And they told that they will give me technician visa and the contract will be of three years?
Please tell that is this proper salary and what about contract and visa designation?

Regards,
Habibi

Expatguru said...

Habibi,

Please fill in your query through the link in the top right corner of this page. I charge a nominal fee for this which would give you a detailed personalized reply.

Anonymous said...

can an expat work in saudi arabia at 18 years old for an american company?

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Anonymous said...

Hi Expatguru,

Sir, currently I'm working as an xray technician in a private hospital here in Riyadh and my contract will be finished on Dec 20, 12. I asked permission since March, 12 from my employer that I will go exit.
But when he talked to me last August he told me that he cant release me unless I extend 90 days for them to look for my replacement.
Is this legal?

And now I decided to go vacation after my contract but it seems that I cant avail this privilege coz they want me to pay half of the air ticket. But it was written in the contract that they will shoulder all the expenses if ever an employee will go for vacation after a 2yr contract.
I am waiting for my flight schedule since August but until now I never heard about my status.

Please help me sir because I dont know what to do.
Thank you!!!

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email. Please also mention the expiry date of your iqama for your query, which would make my reply more complete and more detailed.

Anonymous said...

hi, expatguru,

sir,
i have question that anyone come to saudi for work contract of 2 year & want to resign after 6 or 7 month what condition bu law & employer will demand for how much ...

thanks u so much it is very nice blog & very helpfull..

thanking u !
mkk

Expatguru said...

MKK,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

Mohammed Akram said...

Dear Sir,

I am working in a Oil & Gas construction company, if i will go contractual vacation after 6 month what is the scenario for vacation money either paid or unpaid. contract showing as per labor law

Expatguru said...

Mohammed Akram,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized reply by email.

vda4u said...

thanks u so much it is very nice blog & very helpful .. thanks again

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,

Is it necessary to wait for your iqama for an exit visa once you are terminated during probationary period in Saudi Arabia? Thanks

Expatguru said...

No

BEAUTIFUL AFRICA said...

I got a teaching job in the kingdom and i signed a contract, when i got here, they didn't give me the job and didn't pay me any salaries. I got another job and my employer is asking them for a release letter and till now they did not give me and i can't start the new job. am without salary, my passport, iqama and noting, even dying of hunger. please what can i do?

Expatguru said...

Beautiful Africa,

Contact your embassy right away.

Anonymous said...

John_andrew

Hi good day I am currently working at riyadh as a medical secretary/staff nurse. It is contratry on the aggreements that we were informed back in our country, and the contract that they've given us i believed it is invalid because it has a different employers name which is KING SAUD UNIVERSITY HOSP and we are working at imam saud. I am planning to resign once im done with my first year enweiz we have 2 years contract. I am eligible for resignation or is it considered breech of contract? thanks

irfan said...

Dear Expatguru,

I am a resident of Pakistan who currently got offered a job in Saudi by an employer i accepted the offer and went through all the process which was completed by an agent hired by the company. Now i have the visa and every thing was just to report to the company so that they can send me the ticket. Suddenly i had a family emergency which is precluding to travel and join the company in saudi. Company told me i not go the country they will cancel my visa and blacklist my name in KSA & all gulf countries & I will not be able to travel to these countries forever.

Is it true can they do that because i havent even gone to saudi to start working over there.

Thanks and awaiting your prompt response.

irfan said...

Dear Expatguru,

I am a resident of Pakistan who currently got offered a job in Saudi by an employer i accepted the offer and went through all the process which was completed by an agent hired by the company. Now i have the visa and every thing was just to report to the company so that they can send me the ticket. Suddenly i had a family emergency which is precluding to travel and join the company in saudi. Company told me i not go the country they will cancel my visa and blacklist my name in KSA & all gulf countries & I will not be able to travel to these countries forever.

Is it true can they do that because i havent even gone to saudi to start working over there.

Thanks and awaiting your prompt response.

irfan said...

Dear Expatguru,

I am a resident of Pakistan who currently got offered a job in Saudi by an employer i accepted the offer and went through all the process which was completed by an agent hired by the company. Now i have the visa and every thing was just to report to the company so that they can send me the ticket. Suddenly i had a family emergency which is precluding to travel and join the company in saudi. Company told me i not go the country they will cancel my visa and blacklist my name in KSA & all gulf countries & I will not be able to travel to these countries forever.

Is it true can they do that because i havent even gone to saudi to start working over there.

Thanks and awaiting your prompt response.

Anonymous said...

Hi expat guru! Need your advice.
Ive Been working for 1 year. Who will pay for my ticket back home if i suddenly become sick and cannot continue work? Thank you!

Jeffrey Requiez said...

great blog
expat guru
i have a question i already finished my contract here in riyadh and my employer ask me to extend for another 1yr but disapproved on that and i told them that i will extend until 6 mos. on the given date we both agree on that but they ask me to sign a 1yr. extension so i signed because i trust my employer upon giving the verbal agreement with an additional salary increase now i want to terminate my extension because of verbal abuse. my question is can i terminate it or i have to finished what has been said on the contract?

Anonymous said...

Sir,
I am doctor working for ministry of health. In our hospital we're forced work overtime, 240hrs per month instead of max. 208.and being given less compensation than what's in contract. Also being asked to work for some time in department different from our job description in the contract. Refusal to do such work led to deductions in salary.management say they have a right to do this if they are shortstaffed but such provision is not in our contract. Is management correct? Note this hospital fully under the MOH. What can we do to get our hospital management comply with regular work hours as stipulated in the contract? Some say the one who fought for and got his right will not have his contract renewed.Is this true? Thanks a lot

Expatguru said...

Anonymous,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.

Aveek said...

Hi!
Expaguru,
I am Arun from India,signed a contract for two years,and comming Feb.one year is going to be completed. After one year,would like to go back to my country,
Could you please tell me to break this contract how much penalty amount should pay to the employer? Signed my contract as a food production crew but in iquama its mentioned that as a food service waiter. Please help me soon because got a good job offer from other country. How can I get POLICE CLEARENCE CERTIFICATE from Saudi Arabia? Because I need to submit it soon.
Thank you.

Expatguru said...

Arun,

Please fill in your query in the form using the link in the top right corner of this blog. I charge a nominal fee for my consultancy, which would get you a detailed, personalized and confidential reply by email.

Anonymous said...

Sir, I am going to exit on March 20, 2015 and my resignation was already signed by my employer. I have an offer from other company so I signed a new contract from my new employer.The effectivity of my contract starts on March 21, 2015. My question,is there a legal risk ifI cancel the new contract I signed from latest employer? My old emloyer offered me salary increase.

Unknown said...

Assalaam Alaikum
Since three years I didn't avail my vocation and ticket to home country.so now if I want to claim my three years vocation money & ticket is it possible & how to apply please reply me.
Note : by profession iam an engineer and had been in saudia more than ten years under same sponsor..