A five-year study by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Labor has been completed and recommends an end to the system of individual kafala, the traditional sponsorship system for foreign workers in the Kingdom.
The sponsorship system has attracted much criticism as it leaves foreign workers open to exploitation and breaches international human rights. A report by Human Rights Watch said the kafala system "fuels abuses such as employers confiscating passports, withholding wages, and forcing migrants to work against their will."
New proposals to terminate the system will be "presented to the Council of Ministers shortly for approval,” a source told Arab News. He further added “The new system is designed to protect the rights of both foreign workers and employers."
Under suggested changes individual sponsorship would be replaced by a corporate system. According to Emirates 247 there would be a new "Expatriate Labour Authority to be affiliated to the Ministry of Labour." Foreign workers would no longer have to surrender their passports to sponsors.
Additionally a new insurance scheme would offer protection to employers from possible risks including "robbery, embezzlement, damages, leakage of important business information and damages caused by the worker to others." It could be several months before any changes are initated if the proposals in the report are recommended.