New salary plan boon for workers

THOUSANDS of workers are benefiting from a wage protection system being implemented in Bahrain, it has emerged.

The scheme, which enters its second phase on Wednesday, is aimed at protecting the rights of foreign employees, especially low-income workers and domestic staff who are often paid in cash without a salary slip – resulting in exploitation and non-payment of wages.

Under the Wage Protection System (WPS) rolled out this year it became mandatory for establishments in the private sector to transfer salaries to their staff’s bank accounts.

The first phase, which began on May 1, covered companies employing 500 or more workers.

The second phase, which will begin on Wednesday, will cover employers who have between 50 and 499 workers, while the third and last phase, set to begin on January 1 next year, will cover employers with one to 49 workers.

The Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) is monitoring the implementation of the scheme which was expected to be launched in 2018 but was delayed to allow parties concerned to prepare for its implementation.

LMRA chief executive Jamal Al Alawi confirmed the readiness of the authority to implement the second phase, while also praising the response from employers and the speed with which they have joined the WPS.

He also praised the co-operation of the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry in implementing the scheme.

“A total of 256,000 workers are benefiting from the first two phases of the scheme,” said Mr Al Alawi yesterday.

“The first phase, launched in May, included 85 employers and nearly 93,000 workers.

“The second phase, to start on September 1, will include 1,328 employers and accounts for 163,000 workers. This shows a commitment rate of 46 per cent which is considered high, especially if we take into account that this commitment comes even before the start of the second phase,” he said in a statement.

He pointed out the authority was in constant and direct contact with employers to sort out any obstacles faced in the implementation of the WPS, especially during the six-month grace period granted in each stage.

The labour watchdog head added that the WPS ensures that all employees receive their salaries on time which in return will reduce cases at the labour courts and provide a better experience for workers.

“The employers can open bank accounts for workers registered in their establishments in a commercial bank or financial institution licensed and approved by the CBB, without the need to visit the authority,” said Mr Al Alawi.

He said the LMRA was keen to maintain a labour market that enjoys a high degree of justice and flexibility, noting that the WPS was one of the projects that contribute to achieving these principles through verifying and continuous follow-up of the employers’ commitment to pay wages according to the contracts.

“After all, the wage is the basis of a working relationship between the employer and the worker, and ensuring that wages are paid on time would create an atmosphere of mutual trust, preserve the rights of both parties, reduce labour issues related to wages, and speed up to resolve issues, if any,” he said.

Mr Al Alawi urged employers and workers to check out the list of banks and financial institutions that provide WPS services by visiting the LMRA website and communicating directly with the establishments to organise the process of opening bank accounts and paying wages to workers through their accounts.

He lauded the banking sector’s keenness to provide the necessary information for the database of the WPS, and commitment to sending payment statements on a monthly basis which enables LMRA to verify private institutions’ commitment to paying wages.




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