Kuwait has taken initial steps toward scrapping its worker sponsorship system with the establishment of a Public Authority for Labour Affairs, it was reported on Monday.
Kuwait Times, citing government sources, said that the new authority within the Ministry of Labour will be responsible for processing recruitment of all workers in the private sector, as well managing their relationships with employers.
Under the current sponsorship system in Kuwait, where expatriates account for 68 percent of the 3.8m population, foreign workers are bound to a single company and are not permitted to change jobs without their employer’s permission. Critics say the system has led to abuse, with visa traffickers issuing work permits through false companies.
Kuwait’s parliament is last month said to have passed a bill to setup the authority.
The report said that lawmakers were seeking to change some of the language used in the country’s 2010 labour law, such as replacing the word “sponsor” with “employer” and term “expatriate labour” with “foreign worker”.
According to official figures there are currently about 90,000 people living illegally in the oil-rich Gulf state.
The country is also pushing ahead with plans to deport 1m overseas workers over the next ten years as part of a major effort to reduce Kuwait’s reliance of expat labour.