The Saudi Arabian government is easing fees on companies employing four or less expat workers.
In an effort to encourage businesses to employ locals rather than expats, small businesses have had to pay a fee for employing workers from outside the country.
Now, the government has announced companies with nine or less employees, of whom no more than four are expats, are exempt from paying the fees.
The fee is just under £32 a month for each expat employed.
The government imposed the levy to artificially inflate the cost of expat labour to try to make taking on local staff cheaper for businesses.
However, many businesses have complained that they cannot find suitably qualified or experienced Saudi staff – many of who prefer not to work or refuse to work in certain sectors.
Help for small businesses
For example, Saudi women will not generally work in lingerie shops if they have to measure another woman’s bust.
“This fee was proving to be a cost that many small businesses could not afford,” said Minister of Labour Adel Fakeih, minister of Labour.
“We want to encourage small businesses to grow, so see removing the fee as one way of helping their finances.”
Saudi Arabia has a population of around 30 million. An estimated 9 million are expats.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the government is encouraging expats to come to the country by fast-tracking work permit applications.
A new system cuts the time from application to granting of a permit to just five days.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said speeding up the process was made possible by the launch of Immigration Department’s specialist expatriate services division and introducing more technology.
Malaysia streamlines work permit applications
Latest figures show Malaysia has 90,000 expats working in the country.
“We want to focus on a skilled, home-grown work force,” said the prime minister. “We spend as much money on education as we can to make this happen, but our companies need the best talent and sometimes that means attracting the best employees from overseas.
“Hopefully, streamlining the work permit process signals this to companies and expats and will help attracting the right people here to live and work.”
He explained that more than 2,000 expats had top-level qualifications and skills that filled gaps in Malaysia’s job pool.
“These people contribute greatly to our economy and companies need them to compete internationally,” added the prime minister.