More than 10 thousand foreign workers had corrected their legal situation since the launch of the grace period for undocumented migrant workers “Amnesty Period” Which was launched last July, and will last until the end of the 2015, expected to increase in the coming period especially with the end of summer and the return of business owners from their holidays.
Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ausamah Alabsi said, what has been achieved in “Amnesty Period” in less than two months is a “remarkable success”, pointing out that the workers numbers who availed from it exceeds the sum of what has been achieved in the previous two, in 2007 and 2009, praising the cooperation of all parties to ensure the success of this campaign.
He explained that 80% of 10,000 have legally joined a new employer, while 20% preferred to leave the country and return to their home countries, with the possibility of returning to Bahrain when they’ve secured new employment.
As Alabsi, asserted that LMRA is keen to provide all possible facilities to employers who want to absorb these workers, he stressed that the grace period does not suspend the law where irregularities are concerned, and the LMRA inspection is an ongoing process, explaining that working without a renewed permit (expired or terminated) even if with the same employer is a violation of the law requiring a fine and deportation.
“During the amnesty period a worker can either leave the country without paying fines or has the option to find an employer ready to hire him so he can stay in the country,” he said.
“It’s time that we clean up the Labour market – and let me make it clear, all bets are off after the amnesty as the law will be applied with full force against illegal workers.”
“There will be no blacklisting for all those who voluntarily depart the country, which means the possibility of returning at any time regardless of their legal status,” said Al Absi.
To stay and work legally in Bahrain, the worker should fill in an intention to transfer form and submit it to their new employer, who will upload the documents and apply for a work permit through the LMRA’s online portal.
“An illegal worker does not need the consent of the previous employer to get legal employment during this period,” said Al Absi.
“The old employer cannot stop these workers from taking up new jobs and we will assist companies to hire them in case they require additional work permits.
“For the employers, this is a good opportunity to select the right person with the right skills for the job.”
Al Absi said illegal workers whose passports are withheld by their employers should immediately contact their respective embassies, who will issue emergency certificates that will allow them to leave the country without any penalty being applied.
“We aim to remove as many people as possible from this vulnerable position of being illegal and subject to exploitation and give them the opportunity for a new start without financial or legal costs,” he said.
However, the LMRA official warned of middlemen collecting money from workers and promising to rectify their legal status, as this was often a scam.
“It is illegal to collect money from workers for the services offered by the amnesty either by employers or middlemen,” Al-Absi said.
Under normal circumstances any expatriate caught working illegally faces deportation, while the company itself will be fined a minimum of BD1,000 for every “irregular” worker. Workers caught by police can face fines that start at BD100 and deportation.
Those able to find legitimate employment will have any residency violations waived and be able to sign contracts with new companies without permission from their former bosses.