Delay or non-payment of the salary is one of the major complaints of migrant workers, as well as reasons of disputes between the worker and his employer. Thus, the Labor Ministry of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has taken measures to safeguard the rights of migrant workers against their employers who fail to give or delay payment of salaries.
There are two important decisions that Labor Ministry Ghazi Al-Gosaibi considered to protect the rights of some seven million foreign workers in the Kingdom. First, any company or institution that delays payment of salaries of its employees for two consecutive months will be banned from recruitment for a year, and second, expatriate workers are also allowed to transfer sponsorship to another company or employer if their company delays payment of their salaries for three months consecutively. While under the current law, a worker cannot transfer his sponsorship until he or she has completed one year under the original sponsor.
“In this situation, a worker can approach the labor office to get his sponsorship transferred to another employer without waiting for a year,” the ministry said.
The decision also states that “while transferring sponsorship, the worker or his new employer shall not pay any compensation to the former employer and the defaulter will not be compensated by providing another worker.”
Ambassadors and Consulates from different countries, including the Philippines, had expressed their thoughts about the new policy that would protect the rights of foreign workers in terms of payment of salary.
The Philippine Consul General Pendosina Lomondot in Jeddah, said that it is a welcome development for workers in the Kingdom and it means that the rights of the workers will be well protected.
“It’s a welcome development. It removes the irritants between the employers and the employees. I am sure this new regulation will be appreciated by all labor-exporting countries,” Philippine Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor said.
P.J.J. Antony, an Indian human resource administrator in Jubail, described the ministry’s decision as a major step toward protecting labor rights.
“The Kingdom has to do more in this respect as a considerable number of workers here do not receive their salaries on time,” he said. “Many workers will not be able to prove that their salaries were not paid as their companies do not keep any files or records for them.”
T. Balachandran and K. Muralidharan, both second secretaries (welfare) at the Indian Embassy, and K.U. Iqbal, a journalist, welcomed the new Labor Ministry decisions. They said that Indian Ambassador M.O.H. Farook had met with Riyadh Gov. Prince Salman and Labor Minister Gosaibi and requested them to take measures to protect the rights of Indian workers, especially housemaids.