The Ministry of Labor has instructed all offices not to entertain the requests for canceling ‘hurub’ (disappearance of foreign workers) applications, effective Sept. 17.
“The measure was taken to reduce the number of applications we receive from employers regarding hurub of their foreign workers,” said Ahmed bin Saleh Al-Humaidan, deputy minister for labor affairs.
He said the ministry would impose tough punishment on companies and individuals who make unlawful and unjust hurub announcements to deny their workers financial or legal rights.
“Companies and individuals have no right to cancel the applications stating the hurub of their workers. At the same time, workers have the right to do so if their employers had presented such applications to cheat them,” Al-Humaidan said.
He said hurub applications would not be counted in the Nitaqat system. “We’ll consider it only after changing information at the Interior Ministry regarding the absconding foreign worker,” he pointed out.
However, Al-Humaidan said companies in the Premium and Green categories would be allowed to cancel ‘hurub’ applications until Sept. 17, which had been presented before that date.
Referring to the punishment for those employers or sponsors who make false ‘hurub’ announcements, Al-Humaidan said: “For the first offense, we’ll stop our services to the company or establishment for a year. For the second offense, we’ll stop our services for five years.”
A number of experts in the Kingdom believe that the new measure would complicate the process of sponsorship transfer.
Companies used to give workers two to three months to transfer their sponsorships to other firms, but if the workers failed to change their sponsorships within that period, the previous companies would make the ‘hurub’ announcements.
Most foreign workers find it difficult to get new jobs or sponsors within two months. This will naturally increase the number of ‘hurub’ cases.
Muhammad Al-Sayyed, an Egyptian who works for a contracting company in Jeddah, said “Many expatriates have fallen prey to ‘hurub’ cases because of their inability to find suitable sponsors within a period specified by the existing sponsors.”
Although the new ministry decision allows expatriates to cancel false ‘hurub’ announcements, it would be difficult for them to prove that the ‘hurub’ applications presented by their former sponsors were based on false reasons. In the past, companies used to send their representatives to the Labor Office to help foreign workers cancel the ‘hurub’ applications presented against them.
Fahd Al-Nuwaisser, a lawyer, said: “The ‘hurub’ takes place when a worker disappears for a long time without informing the sponsor. But some sponsors make ‘hurub’ announcements in order to get rid of their workers and get new work visas. In this situation, the worker has to prove that he is still working with the company, presenting witnesses of his colleagues or necessary documents. This will help them get the ‘hurub’ status removed.”
Al-Nuwaisser also pointed out that some sponsors take revenge from their foreign workers by making ‘hurub’ announcements against them, especially when they make any complaints against the sponsors at the labor office. “‘hurub’ has become a sword that has been used by some sponsors to threaten their workers.”