Bahrain law allows firing expats to employ locals

The country's Shura Council has proposed a labour law which will allow firms to sack expat workers in favour of Bahrainis

A new labour law has been proposed in Bahrain.
A new labour law has been proposed in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s Shura Council has given its approval to a new labour law allowing companies to sack expat employees ahead of local Bahrainis.

The law will allow expatriate workers to be sacked ahead of locals if the business faces financial difficulties or undergoes restructuring.

Council members approved the proposed amendment, which must now be ratified by King Hamad before it becomes law.

The council’s public utilities and environment affairs committee chairperson Faoud Al Haji said jobs in the country “should be for Bahrainis and only Bahrainis”.

“Where Bahrainis are not found or they don’t want to work, it should only then be handed over to expatriates,” he said.

According to Arabian Business, Dr Jehad Al Fadhel, council services committee chairperson who recommended the amendment, said the decision was left with employers to do what’s best for the company.

“Bahrainis come first and they will continue to come first, but we are looking for the best for the establishment too, which is why we left the choice to the employer,” she said.

“We see this amendment’s introduction into law as a guarantee that Bahrainis will not be dismissed in bulk, while expatriates continue to work in the case of downsizing or partial closure.”

Labour Ministry assistant under-secretary for labour Mohammed Al Ansari said the new law could lead to unfair dismissal claims and possible compensation payments should a dispute go to court.

“The ministry intervenes to solve contract termination disputes, but if it goes to court then a specialist is assigned by the judge to decide whether it is unfair dismissal or not,” he said.

“Now, with this new amendment to the law, it will mean that if employers sack Bahrainis before expatriates, this will be considered unfair dismissal, and accordingly huge compensation payments will have to be made.” 

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