ASK AJ – December 2016

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This month –  the withHolding of an employee’s passport

Problem:  Is it legally permissible for an employer to keep a foreign worker’s passport for the duration of the employment contract and to refrain from returning the passport to the worker until the end of the contract? In the event the employer refuses to return the passport, what are the legal actions or procedures that can be taken by the worker to recover his passport?

AJ Answer: In the event that the employee requests that his employer keeps his passport for safety reasons and to avoid loss, the employee has the right to demand a receipt, or any other paper signed by the employer, as proof that his employer has received his passport. In this context, it is clearly stated in the Bahrain Labor Law of the Private Sector that the employer must give the worker a receipt or paper signed by the employer proving that he has received personal documents relating to the worker. However, this is not implemented in practice, therefore, if no evidence was provided by the employer, the employee may provide other means of evidence as stated under the Bahraini law.

Furthermore, if the employer refrains from returning the passport as a way of punishing the worker or for any other reason, the worker can directly resort to the Court of Urgent Matters and serve the evidence, illustrating the existence of the passport in the possession of the employer and the court will issue an urgent ruling compelling the employer to return the passport.

This undertaking would further constitute a criminal act under the Bahrain Penal Code, falling under the offence of Breach of Trust, thus enabling the employee to file a criminal complaint at the police station.

To contact Ali Al Jabal at 
Al Jabal Consultancy

Attorneys and Legal Consultants
Tel: +973 17 530 400 

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