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Saudi Labor Law and Cross-Border Dispute Essay

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2021

Introduction

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world where Islam significantly impacts the laws, including the labor law. The second attribute the country is known for is the oil reserves – according to the reports, Saudi Arabia has one of the most massive amounts of crude oil.1 Such an abundance of this natural resource allowed Saudi Arabia to grow from a small country to one of the most developed industries in the world. To accomplish this achievement, they utilized the cheap workforce available in the states of southeast Asia.2 Generally, the labor law of Saudi Arabia does not consider foreign contract workers as immigrants.3

However, within the period from 1972 to 2004, the number of immigrants in the country rose from 800 hundred thousand to 6.1 million.4 Such an abundance of migrant workers not only led to high unemployment rates among citizens but continuously lead to cross-border disputes that need to be solved without unnecessary expenditures. Introducing improvements to the labor law may be one of the methods to handle this situation.

Possible Improvements

Despite governing all general expatriate workers, the labor law does not cover domestic workers with provisions. Gardeners, drivers, housemaids, and personal assistants all fall under this category.5 To provide complete governance between all kinds of employer-employee relations, labor law should be amended to cover domestic workers as well. Without such management, some disputes would be to complex to resolve. For instance, if a driver of some business owner overhears a confidential conversation and shares this data with unintentionally, or even sells this data, the worker is not going to be subject to the items under “Non-competition/confidentiality clauses.”6 Therefore, the labor law should be applicable to all workers entering the kingdom under any visa and job type.

Another significant shortcoming of the current labor law is that it does not adequately protect employers’ intellectual property. If a worker is exposed to private information or protected data, such as patents, the law only allows an employer to restrict workers from sharing or using such information only for up to two years upon the expiration of the contract.7 Employers should be permitted to force non-disclosure agreements that have no time limit. Such a change would grant business owners with a small opportunity to protect their intellectual property.

Despite the discussed shortcomings of the labor law concerning employers and possible cross-border disputes, the rights of the migrant workers should also be protected on a fair basis. Ministry of Labor and Social Development, however, is continuously working in this direction, and recently published a new set of revisions, which impose higher fines on employers that violate employees’ rights.8 Foreign workers even managed to influence the health system of the kingdom.9 Over time, the labor law will become complete and will cover all possible sides under its provisions.

Conclusion

Saudi labor law is among the few legislations in the world that provide migrant workers with many opportunities and benefits. For these reasons, many people come to the kingdom seeking employment. However, current labor law has flaws that do not allow for the resolution of some cross-border disputes. Therefore, responsible government agencies should develop appropriate policies and regulations that will protect both the employer and the employee.

References

Al-Mazrou, Y., Al-Ghaith, T., Yazbeck, A. S., & Rabie, T. S. (2017). How labor laws can transform health systems: The case of Saudi Arabia. Health Systems & Reform, 3(1), 26-33.

Embassy of India in Saudi Arabia. (2019). Saudi labour law: Basic points. Web.

Farhan, B., Brevetti, M., & Laditan, D. (2016). Unemployment in Saudi Arabia: The ethical and economic impact of foreign workers on the Middle East market. Middle East Journal of Business, 55(3672), 1-18.

Migrant Workers. (2019). . Web.

Ministry of Labor and Social Development. (2019). . Web.

Footnotes

  1. Farhan, Brevetti, & Laditan, 2016.
  2. Farhan et al., 2016.
  3. Ministry of Labor and Social Development, 2019.
  4. Farhan et al., 2016.
  5. Embassy of India in Saudi Arabia, 2019.
  6. Ministry of Labor and Social Development, 2019.
  7. Embassy of India in Saudi Arabia, 2019.
  8. Migrant Workers, 2019.
  9. Al-Mazrou, Al-Ghaith, Yazbeck, & Rabie, 2017.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "Saudi Labor Law and Cross-Border Dispute." July 1, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/saudi-labor-law-and-cross-border-dispute/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Saudi Labor Law and Cross-Border Dispute'. 1 July.

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