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ARAB NEWS Daily, Saudi Arabia,
Wednesday, 13, October, 2006 (19, Ramadhan, 1427)

A.T. Under the new labor law, how long do I have to wait after departing on a re-entry visa before I can return to the Kingdom to work for a different employer?

If you return on a re-entry visa, you are expected to continue work with your current employer, if your contract is still valid. You can seek another job only if your work is terminated with the present employer according to your contract or the law.

It has been the rule for years that if your contract ends and your employer still needs your services, you must continue to work for him or leave the country for a year. Essentially, this means that only when your employer doesn’t need you any more you can seek work elsewhere.

Although that regulation was followed for many years, it is not correct according to Shariah, human rights, or general principles of the new labor law.

However, the new labor law (which went into effect in April) does not address this issue directly.

The contract should state that you are expected to continue to work for your current employer should you decide to stay after the end of your term, which is usually two years. If not, you should be able to switch employers.

However, it must be noted that although an employer cannot oblige the employee to continue work with him under contract, an employee cannot compel the employer to sign any papers to transfer his work permit or residency. If after termination of a contract an employer refuses to sign such papers, the employee must leave the country.

Finally, I have to warn the reader that the new labor law has just started and adjustments to it need time and effort on the part of any interested party, and may need the judgment of the court. But I advise any employee in this situation to insist on applying the new law, Shariah and human right principles.

The question how an employer will protect himself against an employee jumping from his job after one year if he finds a better job may arise. The answer is simple: Draft a contract giving the employer the option to ask the employee at the end of each year to continue with him if needed.



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