Much has been spoken about Nitaqat and its associated procedures, with so much hype about Saudization. For the uninitiated, a quick recap of my earlier article (click here) is not out of place. What I would like to focus now is about expats who have lost their jobs and worse still, those who do not even know their fate.
After so much talk about how expatriates who were in red and yellow categories could transfer themselves to green and excellent categories without their sponsors' consent, a new type of problem has now begun to surface. Unscrupulous sponsors have now started dumping their expat employees under the pretext of Nitaqat, without paying their dues. The worst affected are those who found jobs in green category whose new sponsors don't want to change their iqamas. In other words, the sponsor's name and details have to be transferred in the iqama but doing so would mean additional burden for the new sponsor (like charges for iqama renewal, exit/re-entry fees, etc., so, these poor guys are like neither here nor there officially. Many of them have unpaid salaries mounting to several months from their previous sponsors.
On a related note, much has been written about expats abandoning their sponsors and fleeing / working with other sponsors illegally, etc. The fundamental question is, why would they do it if they were paid their dues properly and on time? Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of the law wantonly, right? In this context, I would like to bring to your attention a very important provision in the Saudi Labor Law. I quote from Article 81 (1) which mentions as follows:
Without prejudice to all of his statutory rights, a worker may leave his
job without notice in any of the following cases:
(1) If the employer fails to fulfill his essential contractual or statutory
obligations towards the worker.
So, there you go. There is actually official sanction that a worker may leave his job without notice if his sponsor doesn't pay his dues OR any statutory obligation (which means renewal of iqama, payment of overtime where applicable, end of service benefits, etc - all of these fall under "statutory" obligations).
Now, why then all this talk in the local press about expats abandoning their sponsors as though they were criminals? Don't get me wrong, I do not want them to abandon their employers, afterall they have come here to make a living. The point I am trying to make is that, when it is perfectly legal to do so (at least that's what the law says), why are these poor guys made to run from pillar to post just to get what is rightfully their due? I had mentioned in one of my earlier articles (click here) about how important your contract is. But what do you do when it is so blatantly flaunted by some greedy sponsors? To add fuel to the fire, we now have news about a proposal to tax expatriates. Please, first pay the salaries properly and on time, then talk of taxing expats!