Bahrain’s labour reforms yield positive results: LMRA CEO

An applicant is receiving her new Flexi Permit after the launch at Sitra LMRA office

MANAMA: With the launch of the flexible permit targeting 48,000 new entrants into the labour market in next 24 months, the Kingdom’s of Bahrain’s labour reforms, unveiled 13 years ago, have entered into a major phase, says a top official at the LMRA.

Mr Ausamah Alabsi, the Chief Executive of the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) was speaking to The24X7News Bahrain (www.twentyfoursevennews.com) on the sidelines of the launch of pilot flexible permit project has applauded the First Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Commander in Chief of BDF, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa’s role for spearheading the major initiative of labour reforms in the Kingdom 13 years ago.

“I believe with launch of the flexi visa project, the labour reforms have entered into a major phase which will help in streamlining the illegal or free visa workers by providing a legal option to such workers,” adds CEO.

Mr Alabsi, who was joined by Mr Ashraf Imam, the Deputy CEO LMRA and other management team members, says the initial flexy visa of two years can be renewed after expiry.

The LMRA CEO also oversaw the process of issuing the flexi visa cards at the LMRA Sitra facility where the Authority has created a dedicated flexi visa centre.

The Sitra facility of LMRA also has multi lingual presentation centers for the expats from the Asian and other countries to get a first-hand information on the process and legal aspects of the flexi visa initiative.

The flexi visa will allow illegal workers – who meet conditions – to work and reside in the Kingdom of Bahrain without a sponsor, in any non-professional job, full or part-time, and with more than one employer, for a renewable two-year period. Initially, around 2000 workers can benefit from the flexible permit each month.

The LMRA initiative has been well received by the expatriate communities since the soft launch of the project few weeks back.

“This initiative will help the workers to get rid of many uncalled-for issues with the sponsors, where in many cases people prefer staying illegal, and also provide a legal option for those who wish to stay and work in Bahrain lawfully,” says Mahmood Rafique Chaudhary, Chairman of the Board of the Pakistan Club Bahrain.

The LMRA is conducting awareness workshops for all expatriate communities in Bahrain in order to give prospective workers fair understanding of the new project.

The LMRA’s CEO, urged illegal workers to ensure that the plan is applicable to them, and the possibility of them benefiting from the flexible permit by visiting the LMRA’s website, using the express service feature, or by sending a text message from their own mobiles to (33150150), including the number of their Identity Card (CPR).

Mr. Alabsi stressed the importance of the worker, wishing to benefit from the flexible work permit, being sure of having his/ her passport in his possession with a validity of at least six months, noting that the Authority will respond to the text message with two text messages, the first confirming the eligibility of the worker to benefit from the plan, and the second specifying the date and time of the appointment for the worker to visit to the Authority’s Sitra Industrial Area branch to complete the permit’s procedures.

He pointed out that the appointments will begin at the Authority’s Sitra Industrial Area branch on the 23rd of July, where 2000 permits will be issued per month.

Alabssi explained that once the worker arrives at the Sitra branch on time, the employee will collect the worker’s information and contact number in order for the Authority to stay in contact with him and inform him of all his rights, duties, and all issues related to his residency status.

Regarding the fees to benefit from the plan, he mentioned that workers willing to benefit from the plan will be required to pay a total fee of (449) Dinars, which includes a work permit for two years, health care fees of (144) Dinars for two years, a onetime (90) Dinar deposit to ensure a travel ticket that can be refunded in case the worker wishes to return home, and a one time (15) Dinar discounted fee in order to extend the residency period, the worker will also be required to pay a monthly fee of (30) Dinars only.

Alabsi stated that workers benefiting from the plan would be granted the plan’s Blue Card which identifies them to potential employers, and is renewed every six months free of charge, enabling them to work in various non-professional jobs either full or part-time jobs, with one or more employers, the flexible worker will also benefit from free health care at government centers, he will also be able to leave and return to the country on a regular basis during the work visa’s validity period. The flexible permit will also help protect labor rights and prevent them from any exploitation or trafficking attempts.

He mentioned that there would be coordination with the labor exporting countries’ embassies, clubs, and civil society organizations of expatriate workers to provide all related information regarding the flexible permit.

Alabsi called on workers wishing to benefit from the “flexible permit” not to respond or pay attention to rumors, and to communicate with the Authority regarding any updates at www.lmra.bh, or to contact the flexible work permit call center on 17103103.

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