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Labour ministry gears up for crackdown as grace period for illegal workers nears end

By JT - Jan 23,2020 - Last updated at Jan 23,2020

AMMAN — Labour Minister Nidal Bataineh on Thursday issued several decisions aimed to encourage employers and their guest workers to benefit from the grace period to rectify their legal status, which ends on January 30.

The decisions allow employers to draw up the necessary plans to replace guest employees with Jordanians during 2020, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported, citing a ministry statement.

The decisions should be implemented by the end of February and allow non-Jordanian workers in the agriculture sector to move to other employers within the same sector, providing that the worker receives a final clearance from the previous employer.

They also allow for renewing work permits with the same employer and moving from one employer to another within the jobs allocated for non-Jordanians, provided that employers abide by the percentages reserved for Jordanians.

As for domestic workers, the decisions allow those whose permits have expired or been cancelled more than two years ago to move to another employer within the sector or to another field without having to present a liability release from the previous employer, excluding cases of employees quitting their employers' homes without notice. 

Regarding workers in the garment sector, the labour minister decided to allow non-Jordanians who had previously worked in the sector within the industrial zones and whose work permits were expired for more than one year to work for another employer in the same or another sector.

The decisions will only apply to workers who have not quit their workplaces without notice and do not have complaints registered against them at the ministry or at relevant security agencies. 

Bataineh noted that these procedures are not implemented to increase revenues from the grace period, but instead aim to regulate the labour market and legalise the large number of guest workers who are in violation of the law, before embarking on procedures to arrest violating foreign workers.

The minister also called on all labour directorates nationwide to facilitate procedures for their visitors during the last week of the rectification period, which ends next Thursday.  

Based on a Cabinet decision regarding legalising and rectifying the statuses of non-Jordanian workers, which outlines certain exemptions, Bataineh on Thursday said that non-Jordanian workers who have obtained a final departure permit to exit the Kingdom without return must leave the country before February 10.

The deadline applies to workers who have benefitted from the exemptions mentioned in the Cabinet’s decision, Petra reported.

The Labour Ministry also stated that the necessary decisions will be taken regarding helping workers to leave the country, in coordination with security authorities, adding that all amounts that the workers were exempted from based on the Cabinet’s decision will be returned to them.

Accordingly, the ministry wishes all non-Jordanian workers to adhere to the decision and the deadline, so that they do not lose the exemptions they obtained during the grace period and are not subjected to legal questioning.

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