Saturday, May 02, 2009

Major shift in Bahrain's labour law

Bahrain’s Ministry of Labour is set to enact a law giving expatriate workers similar freedoms to Bahraini nationals when it comes to switching jobs, including unemployment benefits.

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The Labour Minister, HE Dr Majeed Al Alawi, said the law will come into affect under a ministerial decree exactly three months from today.

“It represents a major shift in labour policy for this region,” he told Construction Week.

“It will virtually break the sponsorship system and allow free movement of expatriate workers between jobs.”

The law was originally approved in 2006 as part of a major overhaul of Bahrain’s labour market, which included the formation of the Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA).

Al Alawi, who is also chairman of the LMRA, said officials have had extensive discussions with industry leaders over the past six months and have finally agreed on terms acceptable to both parties.

“There is strong opposition from employers, but we think it is good for the market,” he said.

“It will end the black market for free visas and workers will have the option to go to employers where they will be treated and paid better.

“It will have big implications for all expatriate workers, including those in the construction sector.”

Under the new law expatriate workers will be allowed to freely move to another job by giving three months notice and adhering to the terms of their contract.

If a contract ends, then employees will be given one month to find a new job, during which time they will be paid unemployment benefits, said Al Alawi - By Benjamin Millington , April 30th, 2009.

Comments from Prathap G., Sharjah - I am of the view that the United Arab Emirates, and all other GCC countries should have the same labour law.

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