61 manpower firms caught for violations

LEGAL action has been taken against 61 firms as part of a nationwide crackdown on rogue manpower agencies hiring domestic staff, including undocumented workers, on an hourly basis for cleaning services.

These agencies were providing cleaning services to households across the country, potentially putting lives at risk amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The firms were caught during a series of raids organised jointly by the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and the Interior Ministry.

“We have intensified our efforts against unlicensed recruitment agencies that hire domestic workers for hourly cleaning services,” said LMRA’s preventive inspection director Ahmed Junaid.

“Our ongoing campaigns with the Interior Ministry has resulted in action taken against 61 businesses since May which used 162 domestic workers of different nationalities – majority of them being females.”

The ministry’s Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science director general said last week legal action had been launched against unlicensed recruitment agencies, with a number of female domestic workers who offered their services on an hourly basis arrested.

Last month, the same official said legal action had been taken against 29 rogue firms that used services of 53 workers, including four runaway maids who were arrested.

Mr Junaid said the shortage of domestic workers available on hourly basis opened the doors for runaway workers who were hired by unscrupulous individuals and companies.

“These unlicensed firms used social media platforms like Instagram to market their services.

“We have a team that monitors social media and looks out for such violations, following which we co-operate with the police to conduct the raids.”

Inspection campaigns were stepped up in the past few months in light of Covid-19 to crack down on violators.

“These domestic workers are employed on an hourly basis and move from one house to another, which poses a high risk of spreading the disease,” said Mr Junaid.
“They visit different households and hiring them could increase the transmission of the disease, and that required us to act against this practice.”

Rogue firms caught red-handed during the raids were referred to the Public Prosecution and action was taken against them.

“We constantly urge people not to deal with unlicensed firms but approach only LMRA-approved manpower agencies,” added Mr Junaid.

The LMRA lists 83 licensed manpower agencies authorised to employ foreign workers, including domestic staff, and details are available on the website lmra.bh
LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi told the GDN in May that licences of more than 100 recruitment agencies had been revoked in the past four years for various violations.

Statistics from the authority for the second quarter of last year showed that Bahraini households had reduced their reliance on domestic workers, as the total number registered in this segment reached 86,349 (including 63,203 females) compared with 91,852 in the same quarter in 2018 – a decrease of five per cent.

It was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2011 when the total number of domestic workers in the country was recorded at 87,420.