Saturday, December 5, 2009

Labor courts and your contract

Ignorance is bliss, goes the saying. For expatriates working in Saudi Arabia, ignorance is dangerous. My earlier article (click here) about the importance of work contract evoked a lot of response from readers of this blog. To this day, the biggest hurdle facing expats is lack of information on just about anything concerning them. Information on labor courts is one such thing.

Sadly, contrary to popular belief of those who want to work in Saudi Arabia, this is neither a place of easy tax-free money nor does milk and honey flow in the streets of the kingdom. Life is definitely tough here. Just take a look at the number of cases in the labor courts and it is more than proof enough.

There are two types of labor courts, also known as "commissions". There is a so-called "Preliminary" Commission and a "High" Commission for settling labor disputes in the kingdom. The preliminary commission has jurisdiction only for small-causes, i.e., for labor disputes up to SR10,000. This commission also takes care of issues like termination of contracts. The High Commission, on the other hand, has more powers and deals with labor disputes involving sums above SR10,000. Once can appeal the decisions of the Preliminary commission to the High commission.Both the commissions have legal powers to inspect the premises of any firm and their record books, when a dispute is involved.

Expatriates must be aware of certain important issues before approaching any of these commissions. As per Article 222 (1) of the Saudi Labor law, you must definitely take up your case within 12 months from termination of your contract or from the date of occurrence of the cause of the dispute, otherwise your case will not be entertained. Note that once a judgement has been passed by the High Commission, there is no further appeal. One good provision in the Saudi labor law is that there can be no abstentions by the judges - either you get a judgement in favor or against.

The biggest problem in the system is that it may take literally several months or even years before you get the verdict. This is what pisses of most expats, as no one has the time or money to sustain the legal battle for so long. Unscrupulous sponsors take advantage of this. Which is all the more reason why I keep emphasizing the importance of your written contract. Never ever ever go by verbal assurances. Remember, if it is not in paper, you don't have it!

On another note, this blog has had its 150,000th visitor this morning. What started off on a small scale has grown so fast within just above 2 years. Never did I ever imagine that this blog, which was started based on my own experiences and the need for information, would become so highly popular. If my writings have helped reunite families and to make lives of my fellow-expats easier, then the purpose of this blog has been achieved. To all my readers and fellow expatriate brothers and sisters, with all humility, a big thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Stephen said...

Great work, Expatguru! Congratulations and keep it up!

mir said...

its fabulous and impressive kind of stuff that will help lot of expatriates.Thanks

Expatguru said...

Stephen and Mir,

Thanks for your comments.

RiyadhExpat said...

Congrats and Hats off ...
This is indeed a great effort you have done..
I came to riyadh before one year and this blog has helped me a lot to settle down here with my family...

Expatguru said...


Thanks. Glad to have been of help.

Anonymous said...


I have been visiting your blog for nearly one year and thank you very much for the very useful information you have provided.I have recommended this blog as authentic information to many .

I have an issue regarding my contract.
Iam finishing my contract on muharram this year completing 3years.I have given in written (2 month in advance ) not to renew my contract and that i am leaving on final exit.I have a new visa and want to come back.

But my employer is threatening to send mail to saudi embassies in India to blacklist me. The reason they say is that they want me to stay as they dont have a replacement for me.

Is this possible? As far as i know if i finish the contract and leave they dont have the right to do this and its not legal.
What is your advise?

Thanking you,

Expatguru said...


Thanks for your comments.

If you are completing your contract and have given "written" notice of atleast 1 month in advance, there is nothing, I repeat ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, which your employer can do to stop you from going on exit. Make sure that you have at least 2 witnesses when you send in your written notice. If you have not done this already, please reinforce your earlier notice by sending in one more reminder that you wish to terminate your contract. Do not be intimidated by empty threats. Good luck for your future!

Suleman said...

Its a great service you're doing - it s a well appreciated effort !!!

கிருஷ்ணா (Krishna) said...

Great Effort and Congratulations for your achievement.

Thanks for your contribution to the fellow Expats.


Expatguru said...

Thanks, Suleman and கிருஷ்ணா for your comments.

zafar sharif said...

excellent, fabulous & remarkable acheivement, definitely for the good work the reward is good...Congrats this blog of your's for the expatriate community has help & resolve many unanswerable questions and gave the solutions for their problems in these tough time of survial for existence era...please keep up the good work.....and once again congratulation from bottom of my heart....

Expatguru said...


Thanks for your warm compliments.

Anonymous said...

Dear expat guru,
thank yuo so much for this very helful blog, but i have question and hoping you can help me,

Here is my status"i am a filipino and I want to bring my wife here in riyad but my visa is labor eventhough i am an engineer, at work and profession, what should i Do , is that possible for me to apply for family visa of my wife by getting a certification from my employeer that they can guarrantee my status is engineer, or just buy a visa from any saudi that offer like that, or can i ask my employeer to give me a new visa is that legal or impossible so i can exit and came back again at the same employeer please advise me because i dont know what is better and possible God bless Sir!

Expatguru said...


Kindly 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 would ensure that you get a personalized reply.

SANDEEP said...

Dear ExpatGuru ,

You are really doing good job for the benefit of the Indian People.
I have one query . I am working in SABIC Shared services as direct hire Employee . I got good apportunity in One of of the sabic affilite where my career & pay will be better , new department is ready to take me also on new visa , my question is If I resign from existing job , go on final exit & again want to come back to KSA on new visis is there requirement of NOC from earlier employer & after how much period I can come emmediately back



Anonymous said...


I have a quick question regarding a business visa. I have had mine renewed 3 times - if I leave Saudi now do I need a letter of release from this employer? Or, does that only apply for those who have an iqama?

Thank you.

Expatguru said...


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

Anonymous said...

If i ever get upset about my decision which i often after reaching saudi i visit your blog, i hope to take a decision soon, as i have come here with no contract except an offer and the offer letter has no sign or anything and have been being paid less than offered, i signed 4 years offer letter which i regret the most, but i get afraid when i see that labour courts take months and years together to settle the dispute...Pray for me...A VERY WONDERFUL WORK BY YOU... your fan :)