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Lanka to reform migrant worker sponsorship laws

Sri Lanka is set to seek assistance from Middle Eastern nations, to reform migrant worker sponsorship laws, that require the consent of the employer to change sponsors or exit the country of employment. The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) said yesterday that as its proposals to enact such changes to visa provisions had been received positively by the Government of Bahrain, the proposed new laws would come into effect from August 01.

All new migrant employees leaving for Bahrain from August 1 are expected to enjoy these amended visa provisions.

According to the amended rules, the Government of Bahrain would hold greater authority over employers when it comes to dispute resolution between the employers and employees.

With the consent of the authorities, workers would be able to change employers without losing legal status in the country of employment.

The new provisions is also expected to facilitate swift repatriation of migrant workers in cases where repatriation is unavoidable, or if the worker wishes to return to Sri Lanka, by eliminating exit visas that require the consent of the sponsor.

The SLBFE said yesterday that they were negotiating with UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to get the nod for similar reforms.

The Government has taken steps to improve the protection of its migrant worker rights, specially for domestic workers in Middle-East destinations.

The Foreign Employment and Welfare Ministry which comes under the purview of Minister Keheliya Rambukwella recently announced a set of proposals under a National Policy on Labour migration.

The SLBFE, headed by Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka, considered as the Ministry's navigating arm in the promotion of foreign employment too has come up with new vistas to propel the sector as Sri Lanka's Number one foreign exchange earner.

Authorities had taken a number of steps to streamline the process.

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