Bahrain - Companies were yesterday urged not to employ expats unless their work permits are issued and fees paid; failure to do so could result in fines, penalties or even closure of the business.

Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Nouf Jamsheer pointed out that inspections against undocumented workers have been intensified across the country, adding that 1,135 criminal violations were referred to the Public Prosecution in the first half of this year.

Data released by the labour watchdog yesterday revealed that the violations increased by 152 per cent compared to the same period last year.

As exclusively reported in the GDN on August 8, 2,112 foreign workers were deported for residency violations.

Data for the first three months of this year (Q1 2023) revealed a 500pc increase in the number of workers deported from Bahrain – up from 182 individuals in the first quarter of last year (Q1 2022) to 1,093 in Q1 2023.

“Employers and workers should abide by the laws and regulations and avoid offences that may expose them to legal accountability, especially repeated violations related to work permits,” said Ms Jamsheer.

“The law obliges the foreign worker to practise work at the workplace indicated in the permit or in other branches of the employer that practise the same activity.

“The employer is also prohibited from employing a foreign worker unless the work permit is issued and the prescribed fees are paid, which are conditions that are taken lightly by some.”

She said offences by expats will also not be taken lightly as any foreign worker who engages in any work without a work permit is punishable by a fine.

In the event of a conviction, the court shall order the deportation of the foreigner from Bahrain and ban him from returning to Bahrain for three years or permanently.

Ms Jamsheer warned that non-compliance with the laws exposes the employer to the penalties, which ranges from imprisonment for three months and not exceeding a year, and a fine of not less than BD1,000 and not exceeding BD2,000, or one of these two penalties.

In case of repeated violations, the penalty reaches imprisonment for a period of six months and not more than two years, and a fine of not less than BD2,000 and not exceeding BD4,000.

In addition, Ms Jamsheer said violations related to domestic workers permits “is considered a serious crime calling”, with penalties in all cases to be multiplied by the number of workers against whom the crime was committed.

The law stipulates in case of a conviction, the court may order the suspension of the activity of the convicted person or the closure of the establishment for a period not exceeding one year.

If the violation is repeated, the court may order the cancellation of the commercial registration.

The government watchdog said 21,334 inspection campaigns and visits were carried out from January to June this year, an increase of 63.8pc, compared to the same period last year, including more than 21,005 inspection visits carried out by the LMRA’s Enforcement and Protection Sector.

It is worth noting that the increase in joint campaigns during the first half was 291pc, up from 84 campaigns in the first half of last year to reach 329 campaigns during the first six months of this year.

“The LMRA will continue to strengthen and intensify efforts and procedures to address irregular employment through inspection campaigns in co-operation with the concerned authorities, especially the Interior Ministry, to ensure the arrest of violators and imposing penalties,” added Ms Jamsheer.

She added that the LMRA was keen to implement the National Labour Market Plan 2023-2026, which aims to develop the labour market and ensure its growth and stability, maintain national employment, and raise the effectiveness of the labour market through supervision and regulation.

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