LMRA moves to tackle ‘contract substitutions’

Bonny Mascarenhas

All applications for new work visas will have to have a copy of the prospective foreign worker’s contract, a copy of the employing firm’s electricity bill and a health certificate for the employee, a Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) official said yesterday.

The move is aimed at cutting down instances of ‘contract substitution’, whereby workers are promised set remuneration before arriving in Bahrain, only to have the figure cut substantially through a second contract after arrival. 

 “The health certificate is to be obtained from an LMRA approved medical centre in the employee’s home country,” LMRA Public Relations Head Waheed Al Belushi  told the Bahrain Tribune.

 Once the visa is issued, a CPR number/ card will be issued for the foreign worker against the addressed copy of the electricity bill, he added, while explaining that the new rules come as part of the LMRA’s continuing efforts to regulate the labour market.

 Mohamed Ibrahim, First Secretary at the Bangladeshi embassy in Bahrain, said the regulations for the issuing of new work visas are a positive move.

“It will effectively cut down on the issue of contract substitution, which forms a substantially large part of complaints received by us. We have had many of our people come to us saying that they were being paid less than what they were  promised at the time of employment. Usually it is hard to settle this matter because of the absence of contracts.”

“With a copy of the contract available at the LMRA, it will put to rest complaints of this nature,” he added.

  Other new regulations include the recently announced service initiated to facilitate the exit of expatriate workers whose work visas have expired. The move is being carried out in conjunction with the embassies of foreign countries in the Kingdom.

Their combined efforts will reduce official procedures and trips made by an illegal worker to obtain the necessary documents allowing him/ her to leave Bahrain.

 Ibrahim said 22 of his countrymen have already availed of this facility.

“We have to fill a form about the workers and submit it with an air ticket and other documents. The LMRA then checks with the immigration authorities on the status of the applicant and accordingly approves or rejects the departure,” he added.

“The authority keeps the ticket and other documentation and issues an exit card instead to the worker. He then has to produce it at the airport on the scheduled departure date and will be handed his passport or similar travel papers.”

 Ibrahim said that there could be some initial unforeseen hiccups but added that the LMRA officials are cooperative and adapting as required. The keeping of the tickets also effectively reduces the possibility of workers disappearing into the woodwork.

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