The Saudi Ministry of Labor will start implementing the third phase of the new Nitaqat system that aims to improve employment opportunities for Saudis on November 26 (Muharram 1).
This phase involves taking punitive measures against those companies in the “red” category at the end of a six-month grace period extended to them, said Ahmad Al-Humaidan, undersecretary for workers' affairs at the ministry.
“Punitive measures against companies classified in the ‘yellow’ category will be effective from the first day of Rabi Al-Thani next year (February 23) at the end of a nine-month grace period. The grace period was given to the companies to improve their status by hiring more Saudis before they face punitive measures,” he said.
Al-Humaidan was speaking at a meeting of businessmen at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Riyadh on Monday.
The meeting was part of a series of meetings and tours involving top officials of the ministry to shed light on the major features of the Nitaqat system as well as to answer questions from businessmen with regard to its compliance, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily reported.
Al-Humaidan reiterated the ministry’s keenness in implementing the system in an effective and just manner.
“The first phase of the system that we had started implementing on June 11 involves classification of the companies and giving them a three-month period for improving their Saudization status. The second phase of implementation will begin on September 10, when companies meeting their required Saudization quotas will start enjoying a number of special benefits,” he said, while stressing that the Nitaqat system was only one of the initiatives taken by the ministry to intensify the Saudization drive.
Under the Nitaqat system, companies are to be labeled “green,” “yellow” or “red” depending on the level of Saudis working for them. Companies in the “yellow” category will not be able to extend their foreign employees’ work visas beyond six years while “red” companies will not be able to renew their foreign workers’ visas at all.
“Green” companies will be entitled to a number of benefits, such as expedited services for foreign workers’ visas and the ability to change the job categories of foreign workers into job categories reserved for Saudis, except for human resources managers, liaison officers, cashiers, receptionists or security guards.
He also hoped that the new drive would bring satisfactory results. Two short films featuring the challenges of the employment market and the Nitaqat system were shown on the sidelines of the meeting.