Eighth Goal: Decent Work and Economic Growth
National legislation regarding labour has provided legal protection for expatriate employees in accordance with international labour standards, the Authority worked with organizational restructuring to place the expatriate employees rights and protection file at the heart of the various directorates and sectors' daily work. The Labour Market Regulatory Authority established Expatriate Management System, which is an electronic system that enables the employer or the authorized person from any establishment to complete any process such as issuing or renewing work permits, changing the expatriate employee occupation, and all procedures related to the employer. As for the most prominent initiatives related to the expatriate employees rights and protection, without prejudice to the rights of the rest of the work parties, they are:
- Free Expatriate Employee Transfer:
Legislating the free expatriate employees transfer to a new employer without the consent of his current employer in accordance with the fair regulations set by law, while specifying grace periods for irregular expatriate employees to correct their conditions inside the country, in addition to annual organized campaigns. These campaigns resulted in correcting the conditions of a large number of expatriate employees, some of them preferred to transfer to a new employer and stay in the Kingdom, while some voluntarily returned to their countries. The Authority provided an electronic system to implement the freedom of transfer through the EMS system, where the expatriate employee can express a desire to join a new employer, and the employer can also express his approval of the transfer, in addition to the possibility of submitting an application for expatriate employees to join a new employer. All these steps are executed electronically through the system.
- Flexible Work Permit
Bahrain’s commitment to the overall goal of the sustainable development plan to achieve “leaving no one behind” has pushed it to address the needs of the national economy with regards to casual employment and address the problem of irregular employment, especially those driven by circumstances forcing them to become irregular, like the employer cancelling or not renewing their work permit. The esteemed Government launched the flexible work permit system, which the Labour Market Regulatory Authority began implementing in July 2017.
Using the Flexi Permit, the Kingdom was able to provide the market’s needs for temporary employment without disturbing its competitive nature, in addition to correcting the conditions of irregular expatriate employees and liberating them from exclusive association to one employer by granting them the freedom to work in jobs that do not require a special permit, whether full-time or part-time, with more than one employer, and by granting them all aspects of legal care and protection.
The labour market reform project, which is the first of its kind in the Middle East region, has been welcomed regionally and internationally as being in line with all international treaties and agreements regarding labours, as it takes into account all legal, humanitarian and social considerations, is in line with labour standards, reflects the Kingdom's commitment to provide the necessary protection to ensure the rights of expatriate employees in accordance with national laws and legislation, and improves the working environment.
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority was keen on employing the technical side in this project by creating a dedicated website for the flexible work permit, which allows online application to obtain the permit, terminating the flexible work permit, terminating the work permit, changing activity, updating data, etc. This step has facilitated the flexible work permit application procedures, while providing a high degree of social distancing and protection in light of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The United Nations supports flexible work permits as an international best practice
The flexible work permit offers an innovative solution to reform the labour market by protecting the environment of dealing with expatriate employees in a way that guarantees their rights and the rights of other work parties. It also provides a qualitative economic addition to the national economy by providing the market's needs of temporary expatriate employees without disturbing its competitive nature, In addition to violating expatriate employees correcting their conditions in accordance with the law. In accordance to that law, expatriate employees shall have the right to work in various non-professional jobs, whether full-time or part-time, and with one or more employers. The flexible expatriate employee is also able to benefit from health care in government centres, and is allowed to leave the Kingdom and return on a regular basis during the validity period of their work visa.
- The Wages Protection System
It is a system that enables the Labour Market Regulatory Authority, as a licensed entity, to know the extent of commitment of the private sector establishments with regards to paying the agreed upon wages on time using remittances via service-providing banks and financial institutions approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain. It also contributes to protecting the rights of employers and expatriate employees by documenting the process of paying wages, which helps the judicial authority in settling disputes related to expatriate employees’ wages and limits the phenomenon of irregular employment in the labour market. The Labour Market Regulatory Authority has started preparing an electronic system linked with the financial and banking institutions that are licensed and approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain in order to enable them to follow up the electronic payment of expatriate employees' wages on time.
- Talent Portal:
To create a communication channel between job seeking citizens and expatriates residing in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the private sector's institutions and companies, the Authority launched the Talent Portal platform that allows citizens and residents to enter the platform via the website Talent Portal and register their data. This establishes a comprehensive database available for institutions and companies wishing to employ various skills, as the platform works to introduce institutions to the qualifications of expatriate employees in the Kingdom's labour market and facilitate their re-employment in order to achieve the desire of these institutions regarding the continuation of their work in the usual manner, in addition to its contribution in reducing the presence of irregular employment in the Kingdom by re-employing expatriate employees wishing to stay in the Kingdom, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, which directly affected recruitment from abroad due to the suspension of travel in many countries.
- Various Electronic Services:
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority provided a number of electronic services that contribute to strengthening the work relationship between the employer and the expatriate employee and verifying the work permit activity, which are:
- Expatriate Portal:
Is an electronic platform which allows the expatriate to verify the validity of his work permit validity by inserting personal number and passport expiry date.
- Express Services:
Expatriate employees in the commercial and domestic sector can check their work permit status, their legal status and their work permit validity in the Kingdom of Bahrain using their personal number, work permit number, application number or passport number.
- Authorised Health Centres:
An electronic service that enables expatriates wishing to work in the Kingdom to identify the authorized health centers in their countries to obtain the medical report issued after undergoing the medical examination, as the report will not be accepted from other than these centres.
- Bangladesh Nationality Certificate Validation:
Through this service, employers, by entering the certificate number, can verify the validity of the certificate provided by the Bangladeshi expatriate employee and issued by the Bangladeshi embassy in the Kingdom of Bahrain before proceeding with the work permit application process.
- Electronic Support System:
A platform that enables employers, authorized persons, or expatriate employees to report and follow up on any problem or inquire about any service provided by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority.
- Expatriate Portal:
Last Update: Wednesday 9 June 2021