Saudi Arabia’s Labour Reform Initiative – Latest Update

The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Human Resources recently launched the Labour Reform Initiative for its international expatriates. The main goal of this reform was to make amendments to the current sponsorship system and help enhance the mobility of every national and international worker in Saudi Arabia. This guide will discuss Saudi Arabia’s Labour Reform Initiative in detail.

Changes in the Labour Law as Per the Labour Reform Initiative

1. Administrative Duties Requirements 

The preceding labor law stated that any foreign worker who came to Saudi Arabia by their employer’s sponsorship could only switch jobs. Leave the country or do any other administrative and official duties only after permission from their sponsor. The new labor reform initiative aims to change this narrative completely.  

Unlike this previous law, the new labor reform grants the foreign national complete authority to carry out administrative duties and switch or leave jobs based on the validity of their employment contracts without requiring any permission from their employer.

The only requirement for switching or changing jobs is that they have been residing in Saudi Arabia for over a year and have alerted their employer about this decision ninety days prior.

To help new migrants find better jobs, the Saudi Ministry launched an electronic portal for employers to update their companies. It required workers and migrants to apply as per their respective fields conveniently. The foreign worker does not need the sponsor or employer’s permission to register and use the electronic portal.

Saudi Arabia’s Labour Reform Initiative

2. Entry and Exit Requirements

The previous labor law of Saudi Arabia clearly states that an international worker can only enter the country after having their exit and re-entry visa issued by the employer. However, the new labor reform initiative removes this requirement completely and allows workers to exit and re-enter the country without their employer’s permit.

Along with this, the labor reform law has also removed the need for your employer’s signature on the exit visa as per the command of the immigration ministry in Saudi Arabia. You no longer need to get a sign-off from your employer on the exit visa before leaving the country.

Have a look at How to Issue a Final Exit Visa.

Instead, any employee can request to re-enter or leave the country through the online Saudi portal. The government decides whether to accept their request based on pending dues or debt. In case of approval of the request, the employer is notified about the worker’s leaving and rejoining status.

Benefits of Saudi Arabia’s Labour Reform Initiative

After reading the details above, you can see profound and positive changes in the labor laws for foreign workers. Not only will these changed laws help get the workers more mobility and authority in the country. But they will help ensure that they get fair rights and treatment from the employer.

Alongside this, the LRI will help reduce cases of human trafficking and exploitation by allowing them to return to their homeland without being dependent on their sponsor’s permission. However, there is still a long way to go for every foreign worker in Saudi Arabia. The labor reform initiative is a start.

Read More: Iqama Mehna Check


Q1: What is Saudi Arabia’s Labour Reform Initiative?

The Saudi Arabian government aims to improve the working conditions and rights of workers in the Kingdom through the Labour Reform Initiative program.

Q2: When was the Labour Reform Initiative introduced?

The Labour Reform Initiative was introduced in March 2021.

Q3: What are the main objectives of the Labour Reform Initiative?

The main objectives of the Labour Reform Initiative are to improve the job market. Provide better working conditions, and protect workers’ rights in Saudi Arabia.

Q4: What are some of the critical features of the Labour Reform Initiative?

Some of the key features of the Labour Reform Initiative include a new unified labor contract, the establishment of a labor dispute settlement committee, and the provision of additional protections for foreign workers.

Q5: When will the Labour Reform Initiative come into effect?

The Labour Reform Initiative is being implemented in phases. Some measures have already been introduced, while others will be rolled out over the coming months and years.


The Government of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launched the Labour Reform Initiative on Wednesday, November 2020, and it came into force on 14 March 2021. The initiative aims to increase employee mobility and will apply to all foreign workers in the private sector in the kingdom. The first component of these reforms is that employees are now, subject to conditions, able to transfer their employment in-country.

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