This post was originally published on 17 October 2016 and the content may be outdated.
Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia over 60 years of age may have to return home with the Saudi government contemplating an age bar for foreign workers in private sector companies.
If the decision is implemented, returning back home may be the only viable option for the thousands of NRIs who have settled in Saudi Arabia.
This plan comes as a part of the Saudi labour ministry’s long-term strategy, designed in 2015, to prepare Saudi youth to dominate country’s job market.
As per the strategy, the government’s objective is to create a situation where the number of expatriates is reduced to a possible minimum, and then encourage private sector companies to hire more native workers.
However, the Ministry of Labour has discarded the contention that it is forcing expatriates aged above 60 to retire from private sector companies, but the fact remains that the recent changes in the Saudi job market are impacting the lives of many foreigners in the country.
The total workforce in the private sector in Saudi Arabia consists of approximately 90% expatriates among whom Indians constitute the largest community.
At present, there are no restrictions on the maximum age of foreign employees to be permitted to work in Saudi Arabia. Although there will be some exceptions including investors, college professors, doctors etc, the new move would still be a blow for the foreigners hoping to earn big tax-free salaries beyond their 60s.
If the decision on age bar is implemented, it will pose a great challenge for many companies who are in need of qualified and experienced workers. There is a widespread feeling that although youth have the energy and enthusiasm, seniors have qualification and experience.
The unemployment rate has dropped since the implementation of the labour ministry’s long-term strategy. There are approximately 500,000 foreign workers over 60 years of age working for private firms in Saudi Arabia.
The officials have made it clear that expatriates who retire cannot get their sons to become their sponsors. Private companies too cannot sponsor retired men, which means that elderly NRIs will have practically no other option but to return home.
Source: Times of India