Labor Laws Concerning Migrants in Bahrain
The following document is in reference to Bahrain’s Labor Law that governs workers in the private sectors. If you work in a private company, you are entitled to receive the rights guaranteed by the labor Law.
There are exceptions. If you are a domestic worker (working in a private house as a maid or gardener), a civil servant, or an employee in public legal entities that are subject to the Civil or Military Service Regulations, you do not fall under the protection of the labor Law. This means in terms of work, you are only protected by what is mentioned in the contract with the employer, which is enforceable through a civil court.
Section I: Labor Laws for Private Sector Workers
1. Should I be charged recruitment fees?
It is not explicitly prohibited to charge workers recruitment fees.
2. Can my employer confiscate my passport?
It is not explicitly prohibited for employers to confiscate their workers’ passports.
3. What should the contract include?
The employment contract must be drafted in Arabic and in two original copies, one for each party. If there is a version in another language, it has to be attached to its Arabic version. Employers who do not comply may be subject to a 200–500 Bahraini dinar (BHD) (US$530–1,326) penalty.
The contract should include the following:
- Employer’s name, company address, and trade register number
- Worker’s name, birth date, nationality, occupation, qualifications, residential address, and personal identification documents
- Nature, type, and duration of the job contract
- Wage, mode and time of payment, and benefits
- Other information deemed relevant to the contract
- Flexi-permit holders do not explicitly require contracts.
4. What is the Flexi Permit?
A “flexible” work permit for eligible migrant workers in unique situations was introduced in Bahrain in 2017. The permit allows workers to work without a sponsor. Under this scheme, workers bear the costs of the issue of the work permit, healthcare, social insurance, a monthly fee payable to the labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) and a deposit for a return flight ticket. Flexible permit holders can work for multiple employers simultaneously, and essentially are self-employed. For further information on eligibility and application processes, visit the official page at: https://lmra.bh/portal/en/page/show/325.
Essentially, it is a permit allowing you to live freely in the Kingdom of Bahrain and work in any non-specialized occupation without a sponsor for a renewable period of one or two years.
5. What are the advantages of a Flexi Permit?
With a flexi-permit, workers can work on their own or with any employer on a contractual basis for any period they wish. Workers can work with more than one employer at the same time either full time or part time. It grants them the freedom to travel and return as long as their residence permit is valid.
6. What permits do I need to obtain before I can start working?
Those not entering Bahrain on a flexi- permit require a work visa. An employer or Bahraini national needs to sponsor anyone looking to obtain a Bahrain work visa. This process will be handled by the sponsor, but he/she will need the following documents from the worker:
- The worker’s passport
- A passport-size photo
- Copy of the contract with the employee’s name, birth date, and nationality
- Health record from an authorized clinic
The Bahraini Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) processes and issues all visas before expat workers arrive in the country. As employers submit the necessary documents on their end, employees will also need to complete certain steps. In addition to providing a medical report, employees should show academic or professional qualifications for the position.
7. Are migrant workers entitled to a minimum wage?
There is no applicable minimum wage for migrant workers, however, wage discrimination between male and female workers is prohibited if the provisions in the contract are similar.
8. What are the legal working hours in Bahrain?
Maximum working hours in Bahrain are 8 hours per day, or 48 hours per week. Working hours may be increased to up to 11 hours per day, including breaks. In exceptional circumstances, hours may be increased to 12 hours per day for workers who handle tasks that are “discontinuous” by nature, the latter being determined by a ministerial decision, and working hours can also be decreased by the Minister.
Working outdoors/in open areas is banned (usually between 12.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m.) during summer, from June till end of August, except for oil and gas workers engaged in emergency maintenance.
Workers are entitled to at least a half hour break per day for prayer, meals, or rest after 6 hours of consecutive work. Workers are also entitled to one rest day per week.
9. Am I entitled to an overtime wage?
Yes. An employer may require a worker to work on their weekly day of rest or on a public holiday. In this case, the worker may choose either to receive an additional wage equivalent to 150 per cent of the normal wage or to have an additional rest day. On regular working days, overtime provisions range from 125 percent of the hourly rate for hours worked during the day and 150 percent the hourly rate for hours worked at night.
10. Am I entitled to an annual leave and sick leave?
Yes. Workers are entitled to 30 days of paid annual leave. An employee who has worked for three consecutive months with an employer is entitled to 15 days sick leave at full pay, 20 days sick leave on half pay, and 20 days sick leave without pay.
In addition to this, the worker may obtain a leave with full pay on holidays and official holidays determined by virtue of the Council of Ministers’ decision based on the Minister’s proposal.
11. What other provisions must the employer arrange for the worker?
Employers shall provide their workers with suitable means of transportation, as determined by the Minister. An employer who employs individuals in rural areas shall provide them with the appropriate meals and suitable accommodation.
12. Are workers entitled to an end of service gratuity?
Yes. During the first three years of service, workers shall be entitled to half a month’s wage for each year of service. For more than three years of service, workers shall be entitled to one month’s wage per year of service.
13. Can I join a trade union?
Yes. All workers can join a trade union federation.
14. What is the procedure to lodge a complaint against my employer?
Problems or disputes that arise between workers and employers may be brought to the Individual labor Disputes Settlement Authority at the Ministry of labor and Social Development (MOLSD). Any settlement that is reached between the parties shall be written in a document that is signed by each of the parties and the competent officer and will be fully enforceable.
Workers can seek judicial remedy by filing a claim with the labor Case Administration Office. A hearing is scheduled within the two months consequent to the filing of the claim.
A worker’s claim for compensation for termination of the employment contract has to be made within 30 days from the date of termination of the contract. Workers are exempt from court fees
15. Can I change employers without permission?
Yes, but only after the completion of one year of service. Workers still have the obligation to notify their first employer of their decision to terminate their contract by registered mail. Workers can lodge applications against absconding charges at the Grievances Unit Counter at the LMRA Expatriate Protection Center. Workers who begin another employment contract while “absconding” may be fined, imprisoned, blacklisted and deported
Section II: COVID-19 Related Developments in Bahrain 2020-21
- Bahrain’s labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced an amnesty for irregular migrants. Irregular migrants will not need to pay any fines to regularize their residency status or leave the country.
- The LMRA has also cancelled monthly work permit fees and fees related to issuing and renewing work permits to help alleviate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on employers, and facilitate the hiring of irregular and regular workers