Effective 1 September, foreign nationals seeking employment in 19 finance and accounting positions, including: general accountant, senior financial auditor, finance clerk and director financial reports department, must register with the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants before they can obtain approval for a work permit in Saudi Arabia. Registration is mandatory for those foreign nationals who renew their existing work permits as well as those who apply for new work permits with the Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD). The new requirement stems from a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the MLSD and the Human Resources Development Fund in March 2019, that aims to employ 20,000 Saudi nationals in accounting professions in the private sector by the end of 2022.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Development (MLSD) issued revised regulations on penalties for employers who violate select labour law conditions by reducing or increasing the fines, and by adding new positions to the list. Some of the penalties that may be imposed on employers for non-compliance with the respective regulations include:
Fine of SAR 1,000 for employment without a written or authenticated employment contract (previously the fine was SAR 5,000); and
Fine of SAR 3,000 for not paying salaries on time (previously the fine was SAR 5,000).
The fines imposed by the MLSD must be settled by employers within ten business days of the date the MLSD issued the fine (previously the deadline was one month from this date), otherwise the amount due will be doubled. In case of a repeat violation, the fine will be doubled.
The government of Saudi Arabia has approved the amendment of the Travel Documents Law to allow women to apply and obtain a passport without the approval of a male relative. Although the new regulation does not refer to the freedom to travel for females, it is expected that Saudi women will be allowed to exit the country without the male relative’s consent when the law comes into force (currently this is subject to a male guardian’s approval). The government also amended certain provisions of the Civil Status Law to allow women to notify the authorities of birth, death, marriage and divorce, and to obtain family records, which was previously restricted to paternal relatives. Finally, the amended Labour Law now refers to an employee as a female or a male; and provides new protections against discrimination based on gender, disability and age among other changes.
The Ministry of Interior has raised the minimum salary requirement for foreign nationals sponsoring dependent family members. Effective immediately, sponsors are required to evidence a minimum salary of KWD 500, instead of the previous KWD 450 per month. The following are the examples of selected categories of foreign nationals, among others, who are exempt from the minimum salary requirement for sponsorship of dependents: doctors and pharmacists; teachers; and engineers. In October 2016, the Ministry of Interior significantly raised the minimum salary requirement from KWD 250 to KWD 450.