|16 August, 2019

Violations of outdoor work ban in Bahrain 'lowest in four years'

Only 45 companies, involving 73 workers, have been reported for violating the ban between July 1 and Wednesday during which a total of 8,523 worksites were inspected

Image used for illustrative purpose. One of the last pre-cast concreate panels, is lifted onto the top of the The Breaker in Manama, May 7, 2014.

Image used for illustrative purpose. One of the last pre-cast concreate panels, is lifted onto the top of the The Breaker in Manama, May 7, 2014.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Bahrain - Violations of a ban on outdoor work during the summer have hit its lowest number in the last four years.

Only 45 companies, involving 73 workers, have been reported for violating the ban between July 1 and Wednesday during which a total of 8,523 worksites were inspected.

This compares with 141 violations, involving 294 workers, from 8,437 sites in the same period last year.

In 2017, labour inspectors recorded 61 violations in the first month alone from 5,491 sites, involving 117 workers, while 45 days into the ban in 2016 recorded 79 violations from 8,054 sites involving 155 workers.

The ban, based on a 2007 law, makes it illegal for companies to employ workers on outdoor sites between midday and 4pm from July 1 to August 31, and is aimed at preventing heat-related illnesses in labourers during the scorching summer.

Labour and Social Development Ministry Under-Secretary Sabah Al Doseri told the GDN that this reflected widespread awareness about the ban – adding that violations were mostly recorded at construction sites.

“The numbers are definitely less and this reflects the good relationship that has been established between the ministry and the private sector over the years,” he said.

“We are satisfied with the compliance, even from the new businesses who are aware of the ban and its purpose.

“The violations, as always, have been from construction sites only and involved small businesses, and none were illegal workers in the last two weeks.

“There have been days when inspectors recorded no violations, which is encouraging.”

He said owners of the firms that violated the law have been referred to the Public Prosecution – adding that “no excuse” will spare them from penalty.

Violators of the ban face prosecution and punishment including up to three months behind bars and fines of between BD500 and BD1,000 for each labourer caught working outdoors.

The ministry collected more than BD10,000 in fines from employers who flouted the ban last year alone.

The GDN reported last month that a new challenge facing labour inspectors were workers holding Flexible Work Permits violating the ban because they are designated as ‘employers’ under the system.

Breach

In the first two days of the ban, inspectors recorded three cases involving four men who were flexi-permit holders.

However, Mr Al Doseri said “no more” flexi-permit holders were caught breaching the law.

“We discussed the matter with the Labour Market Regulatory Authority and if a flexi-permit holder violates the law, he will face penalty as he himself is his sponsor,” explained Mr Al Doseri.

“However, we haven’t come across any of late.”

The Flexible Work Permit, launched by the LMRA in July 2017, is a two-year permit that allows expatriates to work with multiple employers on a freelance basis and was designed to combat the illegal sale of visas on the black market.

A total of 156 violations were referred to the Public Prosecution for breaching the law last year from 10,341 worksites visited by inspectors, involving 323 workers.

This was against 89 firms that faced legal action in 2017, from 7,491 worksites involving 171 workers.

A total of 10,035 sites were visited in 2016, down from 16,563 in 2015 and 19,597 in 2014.

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