|16 January, 2020

New alert over hiring maids in Bahrain

Agencies that operate hourly basis cleaning services were violating law and opening the door to runaway workers

Image used for illustrative purpose. A maid sweeps in front of her employers' house in Shamiya May 5, 2010.

Image used for illustrative purpose. A maid sweeps in front of her employers' house in Shamiya May 5, 2010.

REUTERS/Gayle St. Claire

A fresh warning has been issued against hiring domestic workers on an hourly basis.

Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chief executive Ausamah Al Absi said agencies that operate such cleaning services were violating the law and opening the door to runaway workers.

He was speaking as LMRA teams launched investigations into complaints about rogue manpower agencies hiring out domestic workers on an hourly basis.

“I strongly urge the public not to deal with companies or individuals who provide domestic workers on an hourly basis because it is illegal,” he said.

“These runaway workers will enter your house and could commit theft or other crimes.”

Mr Al Absi also revealed that licences of more than 100 recruitment agencies have been revoked in the last four years for various violations.

In November last year the watchdog cancelled the licences of AlJabur Manpower Services, Amwaj Manpower and Sara Manpower, and urged those who dealt with these firms to settle their claims and other liabilities.

“The LMRA has received several complaints related to hiring of domestic workers and inquiries related to protection of employers’ rights,” he said.

“The rights of domestic workers do not differ from other workers and they cannot be forced to work.

“We received several complaints related to recruitment agencies and in the last four years revoked licences of more than 100 offices.”

In a series of posts on his personal Twitter account, Mr Al Absi stressed on the rights of workers and employers.

He urged households to only deal with the 95 licensed manpower agencies that are authorised to employ foreign workers, including domestic workers – details of which are available on the LMRA’s website, lmra.bh.

This includes 80 agencies in the Capital Governorate, eight in Muharraq and seven registered in the Northern Governorate.

“Sponsors should only deal with these licensed agencies that meet the LMRA requirements,” said Mr Al Absi.

“We conduct inspections four times a year that covers all licensed recruitment agencies, who have paid a bond of BD10,000.”

The rules introduced in 2014 included a requirement for manpower agencies to deposit a BD10,000 bond that serves as a ring fenced fund with LMRA, which will only be deducted from their account to compensate victims of abuse, repatriate labourers and pay employers duped into hiring unskilled domestic staff.

He explained that recruitment costs related to travel expenses and other fees were paid by the registered manpower, adding that employers cannot demand the above charges from domestic workers.

“We urge households to study their family requirements related to working hours and communicate it to a recruitment agency, which then drafts them in a job contract,” he said.

“If the worker signs this contract then they have agreed to those terms and conditions.”

He further urged employers to let the licensed recruitment agency apply for the work permit, as they have to attach the signed job contract and other documents.

He also urged employers to open a bank account for housemaids to transfer their salaries every month, which is part of the mandatory Wage Protection System expected to be rolled out in the coming months.

LMRA data for the second quarter of last year showed that Bahraini households reduced their reliance on domestic workers, as the total number registered in this segment reached 86,349 (including 63,203 females) compared with 91,852 in the same quarter in 2018 – a decrease of 5pc.

It was the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2011 when the total number of domestic workers in the country was recorded at 87,420.

The GDN has reported on several court cases in which expatriates were found guilty of luring domestic workers and forcing them into the flesh trade.

Police in 2017 busted gangs that operated as rogue manpower agencies that sold women for up to BD300 to pimps running furnished apartments and hotels, while others ran illegal cleaning businesses where they supplied customers with women on an hourly basis.


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