BAHRAIN: New Flexible Work Permit Introduced

December 1, 2016

Bahrain”s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) has announced that a new flexible work permit will be introduced and will be available exclusively to workers who have overstayed their visa due to being exploited by their employers. Officials say the move is expected to provide companies with “a legal alternative to hiring illegal workers”.

LMRA CEO Ausumah Al Absi has stated that “This is an unprecedented procedure in the Middle East region and allows Bahrain to cope with the rapidly growing changes and challenges in the labour market”.

Expected to go into effect in the second quarter of 2017, the two-year flexible work permit will essentially make applicants their own bosses. Under the permit, they will be able to work for multiple employers simultaneously. This includes employment in all sectors except for those that require special licensing such as medicine and security.

However, applicants will have to bear their own sponsorship, employment, healthcare, and insurance costs, as opposed to these fees being covered by an employer.

The applicant will have to cover the following costs, as well as provide a deposit of the price of an air ticket to their home country:

  • Issuance Fees: BD200
  • Healthcare Fees: BD144
  • Social Insurance Fee: BD30 (per month)

It is expected that the authorities will accept 2000 employees per month under the new permit and a dedicated office to accommodate this will be arranged. Workers that became illegal before 20th September 2016 can apply to rectify their status under the new flexible programme.

This move has been welcomed by employers as they will be legally able to hire people under the flexible working permit and will only be required to pay their wages instead of also being responsible for paying their sponsorship and other necessary fees.

The LMRA is using the time prior to implementation to make all foreign workers aware of the programme, communicating in 14 languages. The scheme is optional and those interested in applying should contact the LMRA.

Should you require further information on this topic, or for advice on Bahraini immigration in general, please contact us at [email protected]