What to do in case Employer has taken the passport and refusing to give it back

My employer/sponsor has taken my passport and is refusing to give it back to me even after I demanded it, citing that it is ” a company policy” or that it is detained for”safe-guarding”

Although this is out of LMRA’s jursidication, please note that the laws of Bahrain stipulate the following:

  • Without a court order, an employer has no right to hold employee’s passport whatsoever. That practice represents a violation of freedom of movement in contravention of Article (19) (b) of the constitution, which ensure the freedom of movement of every person on the territory of Bahrain.
  • This practice (although quite common) amounts to criminal misappropritation and breach of trust i.e the employer got the passport lawfully (in order to process the residency permit and other formalities etc.) but retained it unlawfully (without the employee’s consent).
  • The passport is a personal property, and is to be posessed solely by its rightful bearer/citizen. Also note that most passports clerly mention, ‘this passport is the property of the issuing government” therefore, no other party should be holding it.
  • If the employee demands his passport back and the employer refuses to hand it over (in writting if possible), the employee should first contact at the ministry of justice (diplomatic area).
  • Some employers/managers claim that this is the company’s policy or that they did not receive any official letters about that!
  • Claiming ignorance of the law does not relieve the management from its legal responsibility. Laws must be followed once they are approved by the officials and published in official gazette.
  • Companies’ internal polices must not contradict with the law, and any policy or practice deemed as illegal must be immediately abonded.