Employment Contract in Bahrain
When you are all set to move into Bahrain for a new employment, you must be aware that you are to sign an employment contract before you begin your first working day. When signing such a formal agreement, you need to be sure about the exact terms that you are accepting on signing the agreement.
The employment contract in Bahrain is usually in Arabic and/or English, although the official language (Arabic) version will be the legal copy of the employment contract.
Your employment contract will most likely include the detailed job description indicating your job responsibilities and performance standards. The contract will also specify basic salary, including any bonuses or other allowances that you may be entitled to, job title, duration of contract, details of reporting structure and performance measures of the company, apart from termination conditions. On your arrival in Bahrain, you can arrange to get this document formalised with the official Ministry version in Arabic, or get attested by a notary.
Your employment contract may contain a standard clause stating that your employment is subject to obtaining all necessary permits. This is mainly to protect the employer from having to pay you, if you are unable to obtain a work visa.
As an employee, it is important to note that the local labour laws will always be applicable, irrespective of whether you hold a contract or not. However, the company contract will be of priority over basic labour laws, in cases where its stipulations are more than legal requirements. But, you can still be minimally protected by the laws.
Another noteworthy aspect in majority of employment contracts is that sometimes although your contract gives you the job title you expect, the official version of your work visa is something different. This is because Bahrain has sophisticated computerised control of its labour force that specifies job categories that are open to foreign labour. Some job positions are reserved for nationals in the service industries. Else, the job quotas may be full, or due to other reasons.
Probationary Period/duration of the contract:
In accordance with Labour Law in Bahrain, the usual probationary period of employee is three months starting from first working day. The employment contract entered may be entered into for a fixed term, or for an indefinite duration, which is terminable on notice or the duration of contract could be only for execution of a specific project.
Majority of expatriate contracts are for two years only, but now there is tendency for contracts to be open-ended. Employers have found that they can be held to a definite period in case the employee proves unsatisfactory, as majority of the contracts have a termination notice of one to three months, or payment in lieu of notice.
However, contracts can be extended as and when required by mutual consent, and it is not uncommon for expatriates to stay in Bahrain for 20 years or more. Majority of employment contracts for expatriates are for not longer than two years initially, and depending on your job, you may even be offered an open-ended employment contract.
Before you obtain your work visa and begin employment, you will have to complete a medical examination. You may have to go through this procedure once more when your work visa is being renewed.
All expatriates need to take up a government-controlled medical examination prior to issuing a work residence visa. The examination includes general health check to screen for any serious infectious diseases, particularly HIV and AIDS.
The AIDS test is mandatory, including those from spouses, and if tested as positive for HIV, you will be expelled immediately. The test is repeated during work visa renewal process every three years.
Termination of Contract:
The contract can be terminated by either party, with one month notice or pay one month wage in lieu of serving notice, or act in conformity with Bahrain Labour Law. The employer also has the right to terminate a contract for any other reasons such as serious misconduct or disobedience on the part of employee, habitual neglect of duties, insubordination, absenteeism, disclosing any secrets of the company, in cases of violation of laws, customs and traditions. In such cases, the employee will have to bear the cost of repatriation.
On the other hand, if the contract is termination unilaterally by the employer prior to its expiry date, and if there is no major violations on the part of employee, then the employer will have to indemnify the employee for remaining part of contract period, and the employer will have to bear the repatriation expenses.
The contract can also be terminated by the employee on certain grounds such as serious insult, unbearable treatment, inhumane treatment, violation of contract by the employer, sub-human working and living conditions, failure on the part of employer or his representative, sub-human working and living conditions, failure on the part of employer to pay salary of the employee, or an attempt on the life of employee by the employer. In such cases, the employer will have to bear repatriation expenses of the employer.
All other terms and conditions of employment is governed by the provisions of Bahrain Labour Law for the private sector, 1976. The contract is usually done in duplicate in English, with each party holding one copy.