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Does the non-Saudi worker deserve the value of the airline ticket?

Does the non-Saudi worker deserve the value of the airline ticket, even if he does not travel to his home country? Or does he only deserve it with actual travel, and therefore it does not compensate for the value of the ticket?

Our answer is based on paragraph (1) of Article (40) of the Saudi Labor Law, which states that: The employer bears the fees for bringing in non-Saudi workers, as well as the fees for residency, work permit, their renewal, and any resulting fines from delays, as well as fees for changing occupation, exit and return, and the worker’s return ticket to his home country after the relationship ends between the parties.

According to Article (9) of the Unified Model of the Labor Regulation Bylaw, the commitment to cover the travel expenses of the worker or his family members is determined by the following regulations:

  1. At the beginning of the contract, as agreed upon in the employment contract.
  2. During the worker’s annual leave, as agreed upon in the employment contract.
  3. At the end of the worker’s service, in accordance with the provisions of Article (40), paragraph (1) of the Labor Law.
  4. The establishment does not bear the cost of the worker’s return to his country if he is not fit to work during the probation period, or if he wishes to return without a valid reason, or if he commits a violation that leads to his deportation under an administrative decision or a judicial ruling.

By analyzing the legal texts mentioned above, we find that they do not specify the employer’s obligation to provide the worker with an airline ticket when he takes his annual leave. Instead, it is left to the agreement between the employer and the worker, as stated in Article (9) of the Unified Model of the Labor Regulation Bylaw, and this is where the problem lies. In most cases, employment contracts do not state that the entitlement to tickets is suspended unless there is actual travel, but rather the worker is entitled to a ticket when he takes his annual leave. To answer the current question, we must differentiate between two cases:

  • Case 1: The worker and the employer agree on the worker’s entitlement to a certain number of airline tickets during his contract.
  • Case 2: The worker and the employer agree to suspend the worker’s entitlement to travel tickets while on leave.

In the first case, if the worker and the employer agree on the worker’s entitlement to travel tickets, and by examining the judgments of the labor courts in this case, we find that they have stipulated actual travel as a condition. The labor court in Jeddah refused to award cash compensation for travel tickets, stating: “As for the claimant’s request for compensation for the tickets, it is because the ticket compensation is a result of actual travel, not a fixed amount received by the worker in any case. It is only due if the worker travels or if the defendant fails to deliver them and the claimant incurs their cost, which has not been realized in the claimant’s case. Therefore, the circle concludes that he is not entitled to it.” Another judgment stated: “Since the claimant is demanding airline tickets, and it is determined that tickets are only due to a worker in the case of his travel, and if he does not travel, he is not entitled to compensation for them. This is the conclusion reached by the circle regarding the claimant’s lack of entitlement to the airline tickets he is demanding.” So here, the worker is entitled to cash compensation for travel tickets if he actually travels, and he cannot claim cash compensation for travel tickets if he stays in the Kingdom during his leave.

As for the second case, if the worker and the employer agree to suspend the worker’s entitlement to travel ticket compensation while on leave, then according to the principle of contractual freedom, we find that the intent of the worker and the employer is to grant the worker entitlement to travel tickets contingent upon actual travel. In this case, we differentiate between two assumptions:

Assumption 1: The worker is responsible for not taking his leave.

In this case, the worker is not entitled to receive cash compensation for the tickets because he is responsible for not taking his leave, and the intent of the worker and the employer is that travel tickets are granted in exchange for actual travel. Therefore, it is not within his rights to act contrary to their intent by converting travel tickets into cash compensation against the will of the employer.

Assumption 2: The employer is responsible for the worker not being able to take his leave.

If the employer is responsible for depriving the worker of his leave, then the worker is entitled to cash compensation for travel tickets, to prevent the employer from evading his contractual obligation by deliberately depriving the worker of his leave.

Dr. Fawaz Al Eifan.

Dhamanah is Your First Consultant

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