New rule introduced to protect expat workers in Bahrain
Bahrain is set to announce a new rule for expat salary transfers which will require every firm to transfer all expatriate salaries through local banks. This will ensure that the payment of salaries fulfills contractual obligations and can be tracked. Every expat will be covered under this new rule including low-income and domestic workers.
The aims of the Wage Protection System
The Wage Protection System (WPS) is a system developed originally in the UAE which looks to ensure that employees are paid in full and on time. Under the WPS all companies must create an account with the Ministry of Labour who can then track salaries and contracts to foreign employees.
By introducing this, Bahrain hopes to protect the rights of its foreign employees, in particular the rights of workers who are paid in cash and therefore don’t have a salary slip. By having to go through the banks, employers can no longer avoid paying the people who work for them. If companies in Bahrain do not register with the WPS they may be unable to sponsor foreign workers.
Qatar has recently implemented the WPS and it has successfully benefitted around 1.3 million expats. The Qatar government has also said that authorities will take action against those who do not comply with the rules which is likely a stance that Bahrain will adopt.
Improvements for foreign workers
Employers not paying expat salaries was one of the main complaints dealt with by government officials in Bahrain in 2017. Construction workers in particular suffered the most and some reported that they were not paid for several months.
The Central Bank of Bahrain and the Labour Market Regulatory Authority are working closely together to introduce the WPS in several phases in order to benefit employers and give them enough time to adapt to it. It should not cause any negative financial impacts to the employees and the costs for the employers are guaranteed to be minimal.
By introducing the WPS it should benefit all of Bahrain’s 606,357 foreign employees who make up around 42% of the total population.