MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) cited the efforts exerted by the government of Bahrain in upholding the welfare and protection of migrant workers.
"I am very much impressed by the efforts of your Bahrain Ministry of Labor, through its Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA), in progressively coming out with reform policies that safeguard the rights of migrant workers to decent work and living conditions," said DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
Baldoz met with Bahrain Labor Minister Jameel Bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan, who is in the country heading a delegation of labor officials to discuss labor and employment matters. Minister Ali Humaidan will also discuss with their counterpart in the Philippines, Bahrain's new regulations which provide guidelines to employers and organizations to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers.
"Our visit is part of our efforts to balance the rights of employees with those of employers. Flexibility is our aim in providing the needed balance. It is the key aim behind the new system. The new regulations are connected with the LMRA's vision and responsibility to ensure that the rights and obligations of both employers and employees are both protected," said Minister Ali Humaidan who is also chairman of the LMRA.
During their meeting, Baldoz cited Bahrain's policy on the rights and duties of domestic workers which, under Bahraini regulations, are now part and parcel of the new Bahrain labor law after the old Bahrain labor law (No. 23 of 1976) was repealed on 26 July 2012.
Members of the Bahrain Labor Ministry delegation expressed their commitment to safeguard the rights of migrant workers, including domestic workers.
"We want to safeguard their rights and to ensure they are guaranteed decent work and living conditions. Employers and manpower agencies in Bahrain, which the LMRA regulates, are bound by the new policy," said Ashraf Emam, Director of the Customer Service Department of the Bahrain Ministry of Labor.
Emam explained that the pro-employee approach of the new Bahrain labor law protects contractual migrant workers; increases their salaries; and improve their working conditions.
"Bahrain is the first GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) member-state to scrap the sponsorship system, as under the new law an expatriate worker can switch jobs without the need for his employer's consent, or even if he has an expired work visa," Emra said.
Under the provisions of LMRA Resolution No. 79 for 2009, a worker has the right to transfer to another employer even without the consent of his current employer, provided that he has completed one year with his current employer before starting the transfer process.
"The worker only needs to notify the current employer of the intent to transfer via a registered letter. Then, the worker will have to follow-up with the new intended employer for application submission and LMRA requirements for transfer," said Emam.
"For the first time throughout the GCC, domestic staff, including gardeners, drivers, nannies, and cooks previously not protected is now under the ambit of the New Law. Such employees will now be employed under clear contractual terms in line with all private-sector employees. This is a major component of our campaign to prevent human trafficking in Bahrain," Emam stated.
The Bahrain labor official also warned workers who intend to work, or are working in Bahrain, to always keep their passport and not to give the said document to anyone, even their employers, because that is part of their identity documents while in Bahrain. He encouraged workers to visit and utilize the LMRA website at www.lmra.bh http://www.lmra.bh/ to check the validity of their work visas and expiry date of passports; browse the list of approved medical centers in the Philippines; and verify the approved fees.
Secretary Baldoz commended Minister Ali Humaidan and his delegation for coming out with a brochure on Bahrain's Foreign Employees' Guide translated into English and Filipino languages.
"I am very happy that Bahrain has come out with a Filipino version of the brochure. This will serve as very useful guide for our OFWs who intend to work, or are now working, in Bahrain," she said.