Are you interested in hiring foreign workers in Bahrain? As a strategically positioned nation in the heart of the Gulf region, Bahrain boasts a dynamic and diverse business environment.
Recognized for its open economy and robust infrastructure, the country is hosting a large number of migrants.
According to Bahrain’s Labor Market Regulatory Authority, there are approximately 610,000 migrant workers in the Kingdom.
This shows an increment of 8.1% compared to the number of foreign nationals employed by local companies the previous year.
This guide is intended to provide a comprehensive roadmap for navigating the legal procedures and regulations associated with hiring foreign workers in Bahrain.
5 Steps to Recruiting and Hiring Foreign Workers in Bahrain
If you’re considering hiring migrant workers in Bahrain, it’s crucial to be aware of their work permit and visa requirements.
Citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, which comprise the six Gulf nations, and British citizens by birth, enjoy visa-free access to Bahrain.
However, for individuals from other nationalities, obtaining a visa is mandatory. As an employer, you must sponsor anyone who needs to obtain a work permit and visa.
Let’s examine each of the steps you must follow when employing migrants in Bahrain.
Step 1: Check If You Meet the Requirements for Hiring Foreign Workers in Bahrain
As per Bahrain’s labor regulations, employers who want to hire from abroad need to meet the following criteria:
- Operate within Bahrain
- Be registered with the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA)
- Maintain a specific percentage of Bahraini workers, ranging from 5% to 50%, based on the industry
Step 2: Conduct a Labor Market Test
Under current laws, you can hire foreign workers in Bahrain only if no Bahraini citizen is available to fill the vacancy.
To check the availability of local workers, you must publish a job ad in local newspapers for 7 days.
The advertisement must include information about the job vacancy, the company’s name, and contact details such as the registered LMRA email and phone number. This allows interested individuals, both Bahraini nationals and expatriates living in Bahrain, to apply for the position.
If no local worker is suitable for the role, the application proceeds to the next stages.
Step 3: Recruit the Right Candidate and Sign an Employment Contract
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Once you’ve identified the ideal candidate, you can move forward with signing an employment contract.
In Bahrain, there’s no need for government entities to co-sign employment contracts, a departure from the practice in many Gulf Countries.
According to Labor Law (Law No. 36 of 2012), contracts should be in Arabic. However, in most cases, contracts are originally written in another language and later translated into Arabic as an additional document.
Step 4: Your Future Employee Goes Through a Medical Checkup
The Expat Medical Examination is a mandatory procedure for all foreign workers seeking a work permit in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
This legislation is designed to safeguard public health and security by monitoring and preventing the spread of contagious diseases.
If your future employee is located outside Bahrain, they must obtain a medical report from one of the health centers accredited by the Ministry of Health.
If there is no accredited center available in the worker’s country of residence, you must complete a Non Wafid medical checkup form. The form is available at this link.
Step 5: Apply for a Work Permit
As an employer, you must process all the necessary documents with the Labor Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) prior to the arrival of your workers in the Kingdom.
LMRA will check the applicant’s background and assess their suitability for the job. You must apply for a work permit online via the LMRA EMS system.
The website allows you to perform various transactions. These include applying for new work permits, renewing existing permits, changing the occupation of foreign workers, etc.
The fees for the issuance of a work permit are as follows:
- BD 344 for a work permit valid for two years, including health insurance fees
- BD 172 for a work permit valid for one year, including health insurance fees
- BD 86 for a work permit valid for 6 months, including health insurance fees
- BD 5 administrative fees for any transaction processed in the LMRA system
Typically, LMRA takes between 1 and 10 business days to process the work permit application.
Upon approval of the work permit, LMRA will publish the visa status online. For your future worker, the work permit will be issued at the designated airport counter before entering the country.
Work Permit for Bahrain: Required Documents
Here are the documents required when applying for a work permit:
- Copy of worker’s passport, with specific page requirements and a minimum validity of 6 months (recommended 2 years)
- For non-commercial institutions and non-governmental organizations: a copy of a valid license from the relevant authority
- For the private sector: a copy of the latest paid electricity bill, not older than 3 months. If electricity is not under your responsibility, you may include the lease contract
- Copy of the worker’s ID card, if available
- Copy of the work contract signed by both the employer and the employee
- Copy of the worker’s medical check-up report
- Copy of the Resident Permit if the worker is residing in another country
- For workers with terminated work permits: a copy of the Intention to Transfer Form
- For certain specialized occupations such as teachers, doctors, engineers, etc.: a copy of the approval letter or no-objection certificate from the relevant authority
- If the worker is already terminated and his grace period has expired: proof of extension of the grace period
- If the worker entered Bahrain on a visit visa: a copy of the valid visit visa
After Entering Bahrain
Upon entering the country, your employee must obtain an ID Card.
They must submit the application online or in person at one of the ID card service centers that will process it in one business day.
The fee for the ID card is BD 10.
For more information on the prerequisites and appointment booking, please refer to this link: https://www.iga.gov.bh/en/category/id-card-centres-services
Hiring Foreign Workers in Bahrain: Final Considerations
Hiring foreign workers in Bahrain requires careful preparation and a strong focus on legal protocols.
The steps detailed in this guide are intended to provide you with a clear path for navigating the hiring process efficiently while staying fully compliant with Bahrain’s labor laws.
You must remember that strict adherence to the law is crucial to ensure the well-being and rights of foreign workers throughout their entire employment journey.
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