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Agents: Worker abuse, red tape hamper hiring

JEDDAH: Owners of recruitment firms have complained that the hiring of expatriates is becoming increasingly difficult because of red tape and some employers abusing their workers, including delayed and non-payment of salaries.
These were some of the issues raised at a meeting on Monday in Riyadh with Deputy Minister of Labor Ahmed Al-Humaidan. The owners said that a system must be put in place to monitor the payment of salaries, institute penalties for late payment, and blacklist violators in cooperation with banks.
They said another problem is that there is often considerable delay in resolving disputes arising from abuse or other pressures placed on workers by their employers. This can be resolved with a free hotline for workers and committees set up at embassies and recruitment offices, they said.
They suggested that these committees should be given the power to force employers to respond to allegations within one week. There should also be an appeal mechanism in place overseen by the Ministry of Labor, according to a report in local media on Wednesday.
Other problems and obstacles, according to the recruitment office owners, is the long time taken for employees to arrive, which required that an automated system be introduced to ratify contracts in cooperation with foreign embassies.
They also called for labor agreements that would ensure exporting nations train employees before issuing contracts so they are prepared to travel as soon as they receive their contracts and visas. In addition, recruitment offices should be given the authority to transfer sponsorships, exempt clients from fees and limit fees only to visa costs.
They said another problem is that some citizens are preventing their workers from having contact with embassies and government agencies. Citizens must be educated about changing this behavior.
In addition, this should be made a mandatory requirement for the issuance of visas, with recruitment offices reserving the right to file a complaint with the special committee at the labor ministry about violations of this clause, they suggested.
Al-Humaidan admitted there have been several flaws in recruitment processes over the years that have affected the balance between supply and demand.
He said some countries have stopped sending their citizens to work as household workers, especially women, while others have put in place additional procedures and measures to protect their rights.
Al-Humaidan said that “the ministry seeks to guarantee the rights of all beneficiaries.” The meetings with recruitment offices are aimed at finding solutions to challenges, he said.

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