‘Leasing’ expats is permissible business, says top Saudi scholar

A top Saudi scholars says Saudis can lease expatriates under their sponsorhip to others as an acceptable "business"

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A top Saudi scholar has dismissed allegations that leasing of foreign workers by individual Saudi sponsors to work for other employers in return for money is a form of human trafficking. He, however, said such leasing should be approved by the concerned workers.

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Mutlaq, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said Saudis can lease expatriates under their sponsorship to others as an acceptable “business”.

Al-Mutlaq said the Council of Senior Scholars has agreed that individual sponsors may send their expatriate employees to work for other people with the consent of the workers.

“Sponsors can lease their drivers, maids, technicians, electricians or any other worker to other Saudis in return for money as long as the expatriates agree to work for other employers. But the expatriates must work in jobs stated on their work permits,” said Al-Mutlaq.

Terms and conditions

He added there are companies that recruit expatriates and rent them to their clients as a business.

“Many viewed leasing workers as a form of human trafficking when it is not. The transactions have to be completely consensual and the workers should never be overburdened,” said Al-Mutlaq.

“The workers have the right to reject a client and they can approach the legal authorities if they feel being mistreated,” he added.

Legal consultant and lawyer Mohammad Al-Darweesh said the Ministry of Labor condones the temporary employment of an expatriate by someone who is not his sponsor through an agreement.

“Offices leasing expatriates have to obtain a license from the authorities before opening their business,” said Al-Darweesh.

He said the ministry allows such practices for domestic and technical workers only.

“Individuals cannot lease expatriates unless they are licensed to do so. Otherwise, they may face legal consequences,” the lawyer said.

A source from the Ministry of Labor said Ajeer is an e-portal under the ministry’s website that tracks all contracts and transactions between expatriates and their sponsors.