Bahrain is offering a six-month amnesty for foreign workers who have changed their employers without authorization, a Bahrain daily reported Tuesday.
Labor Minister Abdul Nabil Abdullah Al Shuala, quoted in the Gulf Daily News, said the amnesty would start Wednesday for so-called "free visa" expatriate workers to legalize their status without penalty.
Employers using illegal workers will also be allowed to apply to legalize their stay over the next six months, he said, without giving an estimate for the numbers of workers affected.
To protect foreign workers, the minister said that employers who have failed to pay their workers for three months would have no right to stop them from taking up other jobs.
A pool of casual construction labor made up of workers is to be set up for contractors, the minister said.
Shuala said a new "sponsorship" law, allowing expatriate employees to change jobs at the end of their contracts without a "release" letter from previous sponsors, would also come into effect by the end of 2001.
In a common phenomenon, Asian workers pay agents to secure jobs in the Gulf Arab states, but are often left without employment on arrival and have to resort to work for employers other than their legal sponsor -- MANAMA (AFP)