Development of Flexi Permit policy: Intensifying inspection campaigns on employer and illegal workers

Manama, Oct. 6 (BNA): During the past years, the flexi work permit has contributed to preventing a raise in the number of illegal expatriate workers. It has also facilitated many procedures for entry-level workers and enabled them to work in more than one job at the same time, full-time or part-time, which contributed to the availability of suitable employment with the required competence for entrepreneurs and investors.

The flexi work permit policy was recently developed after the approval of the Cabinet, based on the views of the Shura Council, Council of Representatives, and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry:

To reflect the foundations for effective partnership between the executive and legislative branches and partnership with the private sector;

To activate the system in an optimal way to benefit the labour market systems and their monitoring tools;
To enhance the job opportunities of citizens, and make them the first choice for employment.

Inspections on Two Different Levels

The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has carried out a series of measures for the improvement of the Flexi Work Permit policy, including intensifying inspections on two different levels: firstly, on foreign workers to ensure they are not involved in professional activities that they are not allowed to pursue without specific permissions, and secondly, on illegal workforce, in cooperation and coordination between the LMRA and the Ministry of Interior.

Hana Al Saffar, Director of Communications at the LMRA, highlighted that those found in violation of the guidelines during the inspections will not be permitted to regularise their situation through a flexi work permit, leaving them with no option but to be deported to their home country and be banned from re-entering the Kingdom in the future.

Al Saffar added that the Cabinet has taken new measures in relation to banning Flexible Work Permit holders from registering industrial motor vehicles used in construction and transport buses. In addition, a specialised committee has been formed with a representative from all relevant governmental bodies to develop a set of criteria and professional standards for the practice of 20 professions that have been identified, in addition to any professions decided by the committee, in order to enhance quality and foster competitiveness in the market. The criteria will be put forward to Supreme Council for the Development of Education and Training within two months.

Al Saffar stressed the confirmation by the Cabinet on banning runaway workers from regularising their situation in normal conditions, whether through obtaining a flexi work permit or the transfer to a new employer.

She added that the Cabinet requested from the LMRA in coordination with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism the rectification of situations where individuals hold a Flexi Work permit and a Commercial Registration, within six months, but providing the individuals with the option of opting to keep the Flexi Work permit or the Commercial Registration, but not both.

Activation of mechanism preventing new registry requests for Flexi Permit holders

Bader Farid Al-Saad, Director of the Registration Directorate at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, said that the decision to develop the policy of the flexi work permit represents the basis for developing the labour market in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, after issuing the ministerial decision to study the implementation mechanism, to ensure that new applicants who hold a flexi work permit are prevented from obtaining a commercial registry, and the ministry is working to correct the status of the current records owned by investors who hold the flexi work permit.

Al-Saad said that the Ministry has addressed the concerned persons in the Labour Market Regulatory Authority and coordinated to obtain information related to flexi permit holders, in order to activate the mechanism for preventing new registry requests for holders of this type of permit, as well as reviewing the current registrars to address the holders of flexi visas to amend their status in line with the Cabinet decision.

The aim of the flexi work permit system is to serve the Kingdom, develop its systems and laws, and improve the work environment while maintaining competition in the market which leads to the citizen’s interest.

As a testament of the success of the system it has been proven that with every increase in the number of flexi permit holders, there is a decrease in the number of violating workers.

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