The Labor Ministry announced on Saturday that it would start punishing companies in the red category of the Nitaqat Saudization program from Nov. 26 (when the new Hijrah year 1433 begins) for not employing adequate number of Saudi workers. “We’ll stop renewing the work permits of employees in those companies,” said Hattab Al-Anazi, spokesman of the ministry. Renewal of work permits is a must for the renewal of resident permits (iqamas). He said the ministry had given enough time to companies in Red and Yellow categories to change their status by employing the required number of Saudis. “The grace period given to the Red category ends by the end of this Hijrah year (Nov. 25),” he said, urging companies in the Yellow category to change their situation before the end of Rabiul Awwal 1433AH. Al-Anazi also spoke about the incentives given to companies in Premier and Green categories. “Last September we offered eight incentives to companies in the two categories including issuance of new recruitment visas with open professions on condition that they maintain the same status,” he said. These companies were also allowed to change professions of their expatriate workers to any professions except those jobs restricted by the Cabinet such as personnel manager, receptionist, liaison officer, official in charge of following matters at government departments, treasurer and security guard. Spelling out other benefits, Al-Anazi said: “These companies can also get foreign workers transferred from other companies without waiting for them to complete two years with the first sponsor.” However, he pointed out that the company should remain in Premier category to get this benefit. Companies in the Green category will be given a recruitment visa after the departure of two expatriates on exit visas. They are also allowed to change profession of expatriate workers, he explained.