Manama: A proposal by MPs to ban expatriates aged over 50 from working in Bahrain has drawn widespread criticism.
It was submitted on Sunday by the National Partnership Parliamentary Bloc, which claims employees become less efficient as they get older.
Similar measures have been proposed in Kuwait, but the suggestion has sparked a backlash on social media and has been branded as “shocking”, “unfair” and a form of “discrimination” by those who oppose it.
Migrant Workers’ Protection Society (MWPS) chairwoman Marietta Dias said she suspected it was simply a ploy to reduce the expat workforce.
“I don’t agree with the proposal,” she told the GDN.
“Fifty years is not considered old by any standards and, according to international standards, 55 is the age for retirement.
“They can’t claim expats won’t be working as they should because expats, like other human beings, can perform very efficiently at that age.
“If they want to ban expatriates from working then they should say that directly, without making such claims.”
Bahrain Chamber for Commerce and Industry’s Bahrain Asian Traders Committee chairman Mohammed Sajid described the proposal as “shocking and unfair”.
“This is very shocking and unfair for many people who have given their golden age to the country to get a punishment like this,” he said.
“This is against human rights.
“There are so many people at 50 and even above 60 working as chief executives and holding high posts, so it’s wrong to say that people of this age don’t work the best.
“If so, then Bahrainis above 50 will also be incapable of doing their work too.”
He said the country would face problems replacing qualified and experienced expats who would be forced to leave Bahrain when they turned 50.
“There is no doubt that Bahrainis are a priority – there is no compromise in that,” Mr Sajid added.
“But sometimes the skills you need in a specific sector are unavailable in locals, which leaves us with no choice but to recruit people from outside Bahrain.”
American Chamber of Commerce Bahrain president Qays Zu’bi suggested that if any age cap was imposed on working, it should be across the board. “When we look at Europe, in banks for example, we see that the older generation above 55 retire so younger people take over,” he said.
“However, there has to be a social system that gives them a good retirement package.
“Some jurisdictions allow people to retire and also have a business on the side.
“I believe what MPs are trying to do is give the younger generation a chance and also reduce the number of expatriates.
“But it has to be done across the board for everyone.
“As a matter of fact, people at the age of 50 are young and can perform efficiently.
“They can do the same work, but are of course more expensive to hire.
“The proposal can be suitable for those with jobs that require physical effort.”
Long-term British resident Jackie Beedie, 58, said banning those over-50 would lead to a brain drain. “In general, people above 50 have huge experience,” said the SEC Industrial Battery general manager.
“This proposal means taking all the experience from the workforce and consequently taking all the productivity achieved by them.
“People, for example, would rather go to a doctor with 20 years of experience instead of going to a doctor who just graduated because the first has more experience.”
GDN readers have responded angrily to the proposed age cap for expats, posting the below comments on our Facebook page:
Never in my life have I seen such discrimination!
I think these MPs need to take a course on discrimination and once again, the expats are being targeted. 50s and 60s (are the) best times for many people, kids grown up, out of the house and it is not old!
Actually (it is the) best time and (they) make (the) best employees – no attachments!
In the US, companies welcome people 50 and over because of this and their work ethics, MPs should learn from this instead of discriminating.
Honestly, I am so appalled by this and myself can do rings around these ‘younger’ MPs who don’t have a clue, shame on them.
I believe they should ban any Member of Parliament or minister above 50 too.
The MPs are going crazy over the GDP and economy.
They should use their brains not propagandas to rob expats. If they implement (the law) they should do on both parties (Bahrainis and expats) without discrimination. Plus, if you are implementing taxes, give the expats nationality, provident funds, retirement plans and funds.
Why pay tax if you aren’t a national?
There goes the entire knowledge base.