Bahrain's Labour Minister and Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) chairman, Jameel Humaidan, has recently expanded the Labour Registration Program (LRP) to include all irregular workers. Previously, only workers who became irregular before the introduction of the Labour Registration Program on 27 October 2022 were eligible to apply.
The LRP, introduced as a replacement for the Flexi-Permit scheme last year, enables irregular migrant workers in Bahrain (excluding those with criminal records, absconding cases, individuals on visit visas and domestic work permits) to self-sponsor and engage in freelance work. Workers must register with accredited private labour registration centres and pay set fees.
The duration of visas issued under the LRP are for one or two years. The recent amendments to the program now allow workers to request a six-month extension as well.
Migrant-Rights.Org spoke to a labour registration centre in Bahrain that confirmed that workers who have been recently terminated are now eligible for the LRP permits. An agent at a centre told MR, “We haven't been fully updated by the LMRA about the new changes; however, all I can say is that we have seen workers who were terminated 3 to 4 months ago becoming eligible for the program.”
The number of workers registered under the LRP program remains unclear, as government officials provide varying statistics. In September, the LMRA revealed that registration centres had received 24,820 applications from migrant workers in the first half of this year, with 19,442 of them being approved. However, just last month, the Minister of Labour reported that 42,000 workers had registered for the LRP.
This recent development brings the LRP closer to the previous Flexi-Permit scheme and offers more workers the opportunity to regularise their status. However, it's crucial to highlight that, similar the earlier scheme, migrant workers under the LRP remain excluded from labour and social protection laws. Moreover, LRP workers lack access to labour courts for addressing disputes related to working conditions; their only recourse is to file civil lawsuits against employers.
For more on the Labour Registration Program click here.