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On November 4, the Kuwait Public Authority for Manpower’s (PAM) Board of Directors approved the cancellation of decision No. 520 of 2020 which had blocked migrants aged 60+ who hold less than a university degree from obtaining residency permits.

According to the new regulations, the above-mentioned residents can renew their permits for KD500 (1,656 USD) per year, in addition to the estimated cost of private health insurance (between KD500 and KD700 annually.)

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A group of UN special rapporteurs have drawn attention to the trafficking of Vietnamese women to Saudi Arabia, who are then subjected to sexual abuse and torture. Though the statement is specific to the Vietnam-Saudi corridor, trafficking of women and extreme abuse of women in domestic work is pervasive across the region. Except for the scant protections of a domestic workers law in four of the GCC states, there are no effective measures to protect women who are employed in households and living in isolation.

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Kuwait’s budget crunch, liquidity crises, and labour force nationalisation schemes have resulted in a large-scale termination of foreign workers, and a devastating impact on non-Kuwaiti government employees. According to various media reports, the Kuwaiti government is several months overdue in paying end-of-service benefits to terminated and resigned migrant workers.

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Bahrain recently launched the second phase of its “Wage Protection System”. The second phase will cover businesses with 50 to 499 employees.

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Kenyan labour rights activist, Malcolm Bidali, leaves Qatar after paying a hefty fine as a penalty for publishing “false information” under the country’s cybercrime laws. The 28 year-old is a security guard, blogger and activist, who has been vocal about the plight of migrant workers like himself, and has written for a number of online platforms.

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Bahrain’s Central Investigation Department launched two new hotlines (17710652) and (555) to report cases involving sponsors who charge migrant workers to transfer sponsorship and issues relating to human trafficking crimes, respectively.

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Qatar has launched a unified platform to file complaints, that includes anonymous (whistleblower) complaints as well. The platform includes employees of the private sector and those who fall under the domestic worker law as well. 

The ability to file a complaint without revealing personal information will go a long way in reporting more violations as a lot of workers fear retribution if they file a formal complaint. The whistleblower section also helps third parties who are witnesses to violations to raise them with authorities. 

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Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority announced yesterday that it has placed a temporary ban on issuing work permits to migrant workers from Covid-19 red-list countries. The ban also applies to migrant workers who are vaccinated against Covid-19.

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After years of delay, Bahrain announces the implementation of the “Wage Protection System” in three phases starting from 1 May 2021. The WPS mandates employers to pay wages via bank transfer.

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Several Saudi ministries have made Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for workers in certain sectors. Workers not vaccinated before specific dates must provide negative Covid-19 test results every seven days at the expense of the employer to be allowed to continue working. 

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Bahrain issued a new decision that allows foreign workers to sponsor their adult children and parents if they earn BD1000 monthly. Previously, migrants could only sponsor their spouses, children under the age of 18 & adult children studying in the country.

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Kuwait’s Public Authority for Manpower issued a new decision on 3 March 2021 that eases some restrictions on foreign employment transfers in order to address labour shortages.

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Kuwait has extended the grace period for migrants with irregular status to regularise their stay or leave Kuwait without being referred to the investigation authorities or be blacklisted from Kuwait, provided that they pay fines. The grace period was originally set to end on 31 January and will now end on 2 March 2021.

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Oman’s Labour Ministry has raised the fees for issuing and renewing work permits for migrants in mid to high-level positions, and issued two ministerial orders barring migrants from several professions.
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Kuwait announced that it will resume the recruitment of domestic workers from abroad starting from 17 January,  after a hiatus of more than 10 months due to Covid-19 pandemic.

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Bahrain’s parliament passed a bill on Tuesday that would require migrants to work for three years with their current sponsor before they can transfer to another sponsor.

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