The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly increased job risks, challenges and negative psychological impact. The details were revealed during a webinar titled “Living with Covid-19 Job Risks and Challenges”.

The Indian Community Relief Fund (ICRF) organized the Webinar Talk series where experts in Bahrain discussed how to live with the Covid-19 situation. The talk series aims to create more awareness of Covid-19 related subjects.

Labour and Social Development Ministry Assistant Undersecretary Ahmed Jaffer Al-Haiki highlighted the various measures the Bahrain government implemented to combat Covid-19, protect the public and the labour market.

“The fact is Bahrain has adopted various measures to safeguard the public and to ensure the easy working of businesses. Enabling the labour market to run smoothly, Bahrain did not impose a complete lockdown or shut down business” said Ahmed Jaffer Al-Haiki.

“Labour fees imposed on businesses for expatriate employees were suspended for three months. The extension of the validity of all visit visas and residence permits were granted as part of measures to combat Covid-19. The government also paid the bills for 3 months. New accommodations to labourers were provided to reduce overcrowding in labour camps along with the distribution of masks and gloves. Now it is important for us to be healthy, to stop spreading Covid-19, to save jobs and the economic circle has to go on” he added.

Addressing the psychological impact Covid-19 has had on the public, Family Practice Physician and ICRF Chairman Dr Babu Ramachandran urged the public to stay positive amidst the pandemic.

“It’s not just the job market alone which is affected but rather a combination of events. People lose their jobs, their income and they don’t know where to get their next meal from.  Unemployed individuals do face mental depression as they think of their families, testing positive or being stranded” said Dr Babu.

“At ICRF we make them aware of their responsibilities to prevent the spread of Covid-19. People go through that virtual vicious circle, a chain that starts from loss of a job to depression or even worse. ICRF Life wants to address this and assure that there is always a light at the end of a tunnel. Amidst the pandemic, the most important factor is to stay positive of what the future holds” he added.

In terms of the labour law and the measures taken, Advocate V K Thomas assured that Bahrain’s labour has provision to deal with any situation that may arise.

“From my experience in dealing with labour issues for a long time, Bahrain labour law has all the provisions to deal with any situations. We have provisions that also deal with the pandemic. The employers are allowed in certain cases with the consent of the employees to reduce the wages, provisions of dismissal of employment, all this is provided clearly in the labour law and precisely. People can follow and do things accordingly” said Adv V K Thomas

“LMRA has taken measures that benefit employers as well as employees. All fees have been slashed and amnesty was declared allowing individuals to take advantage of it.   Flexi permits can be availed by people who have lost their jobs.  Therefore, there are several measures as such in place to help the workforce” he added.

Experts urged the public to stay legal, stay healthy by following the precautionary measures and assured that Bahrain is pulling out all the stops to protect and safeguard the public during the Covid-19 pandemic.