Hourly-paid workers posing as nurses and care assistants, who are neither trained nor licensed, are being offered illegally by rogue manpower agencies and putting lives at risk.
The Labour Market Regulatory Authority(LMRA) is cracking down on the service providers who have found business to be booming during the pandemic.
It has warned the public not to deal with these firms and only contact registered firms for their own and their families well-being.
“We have always said that dealing with unlicensed providers is in violation of the law,” LMRA chief executive Ausamah Al Absi told the GDN.
“In the past few months, we intensified our inspections and took legal action against manpower agencies that hired out domestic staff on an hourly basis.”
The GDN reported last month legal action was taken against 61 firms for violating the law since May, as part of a nationwide crackdown. They had supplied 162 domestic workers of different nationalities, including some undocumented. The majority of them were women.
Mr Al Absi explained there are some cleaning companies holding valid Commercial Registration(CR) that were illegally indulging in the business of recruiting and providing services to households on a ‘by-the-hour’ basis.
He said a group of companies had formed a so-called ‘lobby group’ which openly bragged that it not only supplied domestic workers but also nurses and caregivers.
“This is all against the law and very dangerous under the present situation of the pandemic,” added Mr Al Absi.
“After we learned about this admission, we placed adverts in newspapers calling upon businesses, companies and individuals not to deal with these unlicensed manpower agencies.
“Genuine caregivers and nurses need to be licensed by the National Health Regulatory Authority.”
It is believed that families were being enticed to use the service by cost considerations due to the Covid-19 crisis with job losses and pay cuts hitting family budgets. However, it would be a false economy if an untrained worker was let loose with providing medical care.
Mr Al Absi cited an example that a household may have to pay out between BD350 to BD400 per month for a licensed nurse or qualified care provider to look after a patient, or an elderly person.
“These unlicensed manpower agencies are using this opportunity to provide services of domestic workers as nurses and caregivers on an hourly basis, which may appear on the surface as a cheaper option,” explained the official. “But what these households are doing is opening their doors to strangers who are unlicensed and undocumented.”
The LMRA earlier this week in an advertisement urged the parties concerned to immediately rectify their position – ‘to avoid legal accountability’.
The watchdog lists 82 licensed employment offices for recruitment of foreign workers, including domestic staff, and details are available on its website.
Statistics from the authority for the second quarter of last year showed that total number of domestic workers registered reached 86,349 (including 63,203 females) compared with 91,852 in the same quarter in 2018 – a decrease of five per cent.
Meanwhile, latest LMRA figures show that over 53,000 expatriates who were undocumented or lost their jobs during the pandemic have now rectified their status either by applying for the flexi-work permit that allows self sponsorship, found new employment or applied for the general amnesty that ends on December 31.