I have been repeatedly emphasizing in various posts in the past about the importance of your contract (click here). I would now like to highlight certain important points for expatriates who want to return home within a short period after arrival.
The first three months of stay are the most crucial ones for any expatriate working in Saudi Arabia. This is the most testing period because, this is the time which gives an expat the opportunity to know the reality of the job and the new environment. The honeymoon would be over and suddenly he/she is exposed to the good, bad and ugly. Sadly, some of them are unable to adjust themselves to the new environment. It is easy to brush this aside as home sickness, but in a few cases, unfortunately the reasons for not being able to adjust is very genuine.
One of the prime reasons why an expat would like to leave within a short period, is the lack of belongingness. In other words, there is a huge gap between what was expected / promised and what was actually delivered. I know a specific case where the owner of a gas station did not allow his employees to go on vacation even after completing three years of service, because there was no replacement. Another sponsor wanted a fellow employee to be guarantor to release an employee, a gross violation of the law as well as human rights. A third case involved a sponsor not paying the first two months salary - to be kept as a deposit in case an employee did not return after vacation. I believe this amount was paid only after the employee returned.
In most cases, employees are just too scared to even complain because the passport is with the sponsor and without his consent, they are just jailbirds.
Now let's see what the law says if an employee would like to return. Article 40(1) of the Saudi Labor Law says that it is the responsibility of the employer to bear all recruiting fees such as Iqama, work permit, change of profession, exit/re-entry visa and the return tickets to the worker's home country "at the end of the relation between the two parties". Note, the labor law does not say "at the end of the contract". So, technically if a person resigns at any point of time, that is the end of the relationship, which also means that the employer has to bear the return ticket of the employee. Right? Not exactly.
Now let's move on to Article 40(2). It says that a worker shall incur the costs of returning to his home country "if he is unfit for work or if he wishes to return to his home country without a legitimate reason". What is "legitimate", is not defined. Why would anyone want to return to his own country without a legitimate reason? But this is not the point. Read this sentence carefully once more. The law says that the worker shall incur "the costs of returning to his home country". Which means that he pays for his one way ticket back home. He need not pay for any of the other costs incurred by his employer. Or at least that is what the law says.
But in reality is this the case? Any person wanting to leave against his sponsor's wishes is really asking for trouble. In almost all cases, it is common for the sponsor to make the employee pay for all the expenses incurred by him, including all recruiting costs. Either you pay up or you don't leave the Kingdom of Humanity.
So, what is the practical way out of the situation? I cannot think of any other way, other than patiently waiting for your vacation time. There is simply no point in grumbling once you have arrived, because you are only going to hurt yourself emotionally.
I keep getting queries from people so desparate to come to the kingdom at any cost and do whatever kind of job they can get their hands on - just any kind of job. All they want is a job in Saudi Arabia, whatever it might be. My request to such people is: Please, don't get desparate. The oil boom has long ended and unemployment in the kingdom is a reality. So, if you really don't get a good offer, do not come. This would be good for you as well as for other expatriates already here. Working in Saudi Arabia is no longer a luxury. People do sweat it out for every Riyal they make, so have no assumptions that money is made easily here.