Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) announced that it will start accepting work permit requests for workers outside of the country from 9 August 2020 onwards, following its temporary suspension in March due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The LMRA also announced that it will require businesses in the private sector to announce their job vacancies in local newspapers for a period of two weeks to prioritise local hiring, before issuing work permits to workers abroad.
In a move to facilitate local hiring, the LMRA launched a “talent portal” in June to connect migrant job seekers in Bahrain to employers in the private sector. Migrant workers can upload their CVs and qualifications for local employers seeking to hire.
To further support the private sector, the LMRA has also reduced the issuance and renewal of work permit fees by 50% from 1 July to October 1 for most businesses, while giving a full waiver of work permit fees for businesses in sectors most affected by Covid-19. But as mentioned in our previous report, while such exemptions reduced business overheads, many businesses continued to terminate contracts and reduce pay by 50%, (which is allowed by Bahrain’s labour law) or stopped paying their employees altogether.
Bahrain’s move to resume issuing work permits from abroad follows the gradual move to ease restrictions put in place in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. Bahrain is also planning to re-open gyms, outdoor fields and swimming pools on August 6, while outdoor dining in restaurants will be allowed from September 3 and sheesha cafes. Dine-in services will be permitted from September 24 onwards.
The easing of restrictions comes despite the high number of Covid-19 cases recorded in the country. According to the World Health Organisation, Bahrain has the third-highest rate of infections (counted as the total number of positive cases per 1 million people) in the world.