RIYADH – Saudi employers are breaking the Kingdom’s laws by holding the passports of their foreign employees, said Fadhl Abu Al-Ainain, an economist.
Al-Ainain was quoted Monday in a section of the Arabic press as saying that the law is ignored by some employers and not enforced by government agencies. This has resulted in unnecessary litigation with various international organizations.
As a consequence, some international human rights and labor organizations accuse the Kingdom of condoning and abetting human trafficking, he added.
Al-Ainain said certain business owners are giving the Kingdom a bad name internationally with this type of illegal behavior.
These businesspeople believe that they can control their workers and prevent them from running away if they hold onto their passports. However, this does not work because employees abandon their employers anyway, he added.
He said that legal contracts should determine the relationship between employers and employees.
Nidal Redwan, Chairman of the National Labor Committee, was quoted in a section of the Arabic press as saying that the country’s laws must be respected. The National Labor Committee is the body set up by the Ministry of Labor to study salary payment delays by employers.
Redwan said the Council of Ministers issued a decision a while ago preventing employers from holding their employees’ passports. The Cabinet also ordered that the word “kafeel”, or sponsor, be replaced with the word “business owner”.
Redwan said workers have a right to keep their own passports, and those of their family members. Workers are also allowed to travel to any part of the Kingdom with their iqamas without the need to get a “no objection” letter from their employers.
He warned that the illegal behavior of these employers is causing great damage to the Kingdom’s reputation abroad. — SG