Foreign investors welcomed the decision allowing them to open domestic workers’ recruitment agencies in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Ministry of Labor and Social Development issued an announcement to this effect on Friday.
The move aims to raise competitiveness in the recruitment sector, offer wide-ranging options for clients, develop the sector by benefiting from international experience and improve services, the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, foreign recruitment agency must have at least three-year experience in the field of hiring and recruiting domestic workers and have a website.
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Many Saudis in the low- and middle-income groups believe that employing house help is no longer affordable to them due to high recruitment costs and difficult visa conditions.
Recruitment companies charge fees ranging from SR14,000 to SR20,000 although the ministry has fixed recruitment fee at SR10,000.
Any applicant applying for a visa to recruit a housemaid should have a bank balance of SR35,000. If he or she wanted to recruit a second maid they should have either a monthly salary of SR6,000 or a bank balance of SR60,000. Only people with a monthly salary of SR9,000 or bank balance of SR90,000 can apply for a third visa. To get a fourth visa, the employer’s monthly salary should be SR22,000 or they should be maintaining a bank balance of SR180,000.
SAGIA has now eased the process to issue licenses. Now investment licenses can be issued in less than four hours. Earlier the procedures used to take 53 hours. Earlier, eight documents were required to get an investment license, but now only two documents are required. These two documents are financial statements and commercial registers attested by Saudi embassy where the company seeking investment license is located.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has taken a number of measures to protect the rights of domestic workers.
Last December, the ministry started a scheme to issue prepaid payroll or salary cards for domestic workers (housemaids, drivers etc.) to protect their wages and ensure that they get their salaries on time.
The ministry gave a six-month deadline to all employers to issue these cards to domestic workers under their sponsorship.
Many banks are already offering prepaid card services to their customers. The debit-card like option empowers household workers to handle their cash in a safe and secure manner with multiple access options and peace of mind
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