Monday, May 21, 2012

Small Defaulters will be Deported From Saudi Arabia

Saudi mulls deportation of expatriate debtors

The new system will cover foreigners who are involved in financial cases not exceeding SR50,000 (Dh49,500), Alwatan Arabic language daily said.
Instead of jailing them, courts will keep those debtors in detention until an agreement is reached with lenders to deport them to their home countries, the paper said, citing what it described as informed sources
"The competent authorities are studying proposals to replace the current imprisonment system with deportation for expatriates involved in financial cases not exceeding SR50,000," it said.

"Deportation will be carried out once an agreement is reached between the authorities and the creditors and the debtors involved are found unable to pay back...the new system will be applicable on those who do not have a police record or have not been involved in serious crimes such as drug dealing, smuggling of weapons or anti-state will be coupled with the enforcement of the electronic eye stamp system so those offenders will not be able to return to the Kingdom under a new name or passport."

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Labour ministry contract supersedes all other documents

Sunday, May 20, 2012
Dubai: The Ministry of Labour contract takes precedence over all agreements between employer and employee and is the only document that is recognised by the authorities, the ministry has warned.
A senior labour ministry official told Gulf News any contract between the employer and the employee other than the labour contract will not be taken into consideration.
The warning comes after some employees have complained that they are being deprived of their rights as laid down in the labour ministry’s contract.
A group of insurance specialists have alleged that their company is cheating employees by forcing them to sign a letter of intent and depriving them of rights guaranteed by the labour ministry’s contract, including basic pay and gratuity.
Paying back commission
The employees who work for Nexus Insurance Brokers told Gulf News that the company was unwilling to accept resignation letters unless the staff hand over all commissions they earned last year.
Documents obtained by Gulf News show the employees have a limited labour contract under which they are given a basic salary of Dh0.001 and Dh6,000 for accommodation, transportation and other allowances.
The letter of intent, which the insurance specialists were forced to sign, says employees were issued a labour contract because it is a requirement of the UAE law. The principal purpose of the labour contract will be to “sponsor employees’ activities in the UAE and does not constitute in part or full their contract with Nexus”.
“All benefits mentioned in the labour contract issued by the labour department and any other benefit such as accommodation, transportation, leave, air ticket, leave salary, entertainment, gratuity and other benefits are in fact included in commission, and may be stated separately in the labour contract only for the purpose of enabling you to sponsor your family and domestic help in the UAE,” the letter of intent says.
R.J., an employee, said they were forced to sign an undertaking that if the company was required by law and the labour contract to pay a certain amount to them, the employees must repay the company commission and collection fees. He alleged that the company does not accept resignations till employees pay back what they have earned in the form of commissions in their last year at work.
“Unless we give them the last year’s earnings, they will not cancel our visas,” B.F., a former employee, said. “When I resigned, the company handed me a letter that said my resignation would be accepted, but I must first pay a cheque amounting to my last year’s earnings. Only then would they give me a release letter.”
Employer reaction
Hussain Ayyash, legal and human resources director at Nexus Insurance Brokers, told Gulf News that all the letters of intent are legal and issued to protect the company’s rights. “Our employees work on commissions and they earn a huge amount of money. As the employees work on commissions, they have no labour rights. We issue employees a labour contract as a formality as we have to issue it. The labour contract contains certain allowances, which helps employees sponsor their families. But we do not work according to the labour contract. For us, it does not exist.”
He said he had filed a complaint at the labour ministry against some employees who had recently resigned and joined competing firms. “We also have to take back commissions they earned in the last year of work with us,” Ayyash said.
Gulf News has learnt that the labour court recently ordered Nexus Insurance Brokers to pay Dh20,000 as end of service benefits to a British consultant who resigned and complained against the company to the labour ministry.
Mohammad Bin Dakhin, Director of Governmental Communication at the labour ministry, told Gulf News that any agreement between the employer and the employee other than the labour contract would not be taken into consideration. “In case of dispute between the employer and the employee, the ministry will only consider the ministry’s contract,” he said.
Bin Dakhin said a letter of intent or internal contracts between the employer and employee are not accepted. “It is illegal to consider that the labour contract has been issued only to allow employees to sponsor their families. Denying workers the rights mentioned in the labour contract is illegal,” he said. Bin Dakhin said that any contract between the employer and employee not signed and approved by the labour ministry is not a legal document.
By Bassma Al Jandaly, Senior Reporter
© Gulf News 2012. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sponsorship system on its way out in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Major Changes to Labor Law Expected 

 Al-Humaidan noted that the ministry replaced several provisions in the kafala system Deputy Labor Minister for workers affairs Ahmad Al-Humaidan said that the ministry had started taking practical steps aimed at scrapping the individual sponsorship (kafala) system. "We have already begun changing some technical terms related with the sponsorship system, like changing the term 'transfer of sponsorship' (naql kafala) to 'transfer of services.' Other steps included preventing sponsors from holding passports of foreign workers and canceling the condition to obtain the sponsor's approval for workers to bring their families to the Kingdom," he said. The deputy minister made the remarks while addressing a seminar on private health firms in Riyadh, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported yesterday. with new regulations that govern the relationship between the employer and the foreign worker. "If you look at any of these regulations, you can't see anything that is pointing to the sponsorship system. The ministry was able to remove all the restrictions imposed by sponsors on their workers," he said while claiming that at present, there are no obligations between the sponsor and the foreigner except those that come under the framework of an employer and employee. The deputy minister said that scrapping the sponsorship system and easing restrictions on the labor market should be taken into account in the right perspective. "It does not mean that a foreigner can enter the Kingdom and then search for a job in the local employment market. This doesn't make any sense and should not happen in the Kingdom," he said, while stressing that the Kingdom wanted to follow the example of the most regulated and systematic labor markets in the world, such as the United States in this respect. Al-Humaidan emphasized the ministry was striving hard to protect the rights of foreign workers without harming the interests of their employers. According to media reports in March, the ministry had completed a study on prospects of canceling the sponsorship system replacing it with recruitment companies. It was pointed out that the move might lead to the scrapping of the sponsorship system all together at a later stage. The study, which took five years to complete, included the rules and regulations for the new recruitment companies. The Council of Ministers is expected to approve it before the end of 2012. The study proposed the formation of a commission under the ministry to look into foreign labor issues and put an end to the traditional sponsorship system. The Riyadh-based commission will have branches in major cities, such as Jeddah and Dammam. According to the new system, an employer would not be responsible for the wrong actions of a foreign worker outside his work. The study proposed introduction of a mandatory insurance scheme to protect financial rights of foreign workers and employers. The scheme, which may act as an effective tool to end the justification for introducing the sponsorship system, would cover the damages caused by a foreign worker, payment of unpaid salaries and provision of air tickets.