No law for temporary visas for workers with pending cases in Bahrain


Labour relations director Shaikh Ali bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa said that the granting of a permit to work for an expatriate fighting out a case in court can only happen if a company with a ready work visa is willing to take the worker and assume sponsorship, and with the court’s approval.

He said the ministry is taking steps to ensure that workers will not be stranded because of pending cases but in general the workers’ option is to go home.

“A worker with a pending case can be allowed to work but that only happens with the approval of the court and with another company with a ready and valid work permit ready to take him in,” Shaikh Ali told the Tribune.
“We just finished a case where a worker has gone unpaid for five months but he was allowed to take up work in another company. We do not have rules now which allow us to give work permits for expats awaiting settlement of their cases, except in rare and legitimate cases,” he said.

Shaikh Ali said expatriates with pending cases did not have to end up stranded in Bahrain because they can go home and their case can be followed up by their respective embassies.

“There are people waiting for salaries or claiming payments. They can go home because we now have a system through which the expats’ claims can be represented by their respective embassies or labour officials,” Shaikh Ali said.

He said that the labour arbitration court is enforcing a rule where a labour dispute is solved within two sittings or within two weeks time.

The issue on whether expatriates with pending cases be allowed to work arose anew last week after migrant workers groups, embassies and government officials met at a forum on human trafficking.

Some diplomats attending the conference aired the need for the government to open up a mechanism to allow expats with pending cases to work while their cases are under litigation.

Some embassies, like that of the Philippine Embassy, reported they had in their records some 20 to 25 nationals whose cases had gone unsettled for three or more years. The cases range from claims for unpaid salaries, or contract violations.
Embassies and welfare groups expressed concern that expatriates with pending cases end up stranded in Bahrain with no source of livelihood. Some of them, they said, just vanished in the labour market as free visa or entirely undocumented workers.

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