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
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
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.