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Saudi Arabia announces labour reforms for private-sector workers

Saudi Arabia is the only GCC state that still has an exit visa –a permit for migrants to exit the country, and a “re-entry visa” to return to the Kingdom, both of which require sponsor's permission The MHRSD announced that migrant workers will be able to leave the country without employer’s approval, however, workers must still submit a request to the Ministry for an exit permit and the ministry will, in turn, notify the employer electronically of their workers’ departure. 

According to the ministry, these new reforms complement other measures announced in recent years – such as the Wage Protection System for all workers, digitisation of work contracts and launch of "amicable settlement" for labour disputes – reforms that have not been successful due to lack of implementation and enforcement...

Currently, there are too few details to assess the reforms, including whether they will feature caveats similar to Qatar’s early reforms. Observers must be cautious with their praise until it is clear what the reforms will look like – and how they are implemented – in practice.