The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) has imposed an obligation on all leaseholders of tourist establishments (both under development and operating) to ensure that expatriate employees employed either directly or through subcontractors have valid work permits. The Policy was published on 29 May 2020.

It is important to note that expatriate employees employed by contractors, sub-lessees and managers would all fall within the ambit of “a subcontracting party”.

This new obligation applies equally to all tourism leaseholders of tourist islands/resorts, tourist hotels, tourist guesthouses, tourist vessels, diving centres and travel agencies.

The policy comes as part of the ongoing government effort to ensure that those working in the country are appropriately documented and in possession of valid permits. The issue is amplified by the challenges faced by the Maldives in relation to measures being taken to combating Covid-19 in the Maldives. It is common knowledge that over 1000 expatriates are now confirmed to have caught the virus, and a good percentage of them are undocumented workers. This mechanism is aimed at closing existing gaps in the abundant use of employing undocumented workers in various industries of the country.

It appears that MoT by this Policy aims at assisting the government tackle this difficult matter of dealing with the exodus of undocumented workers in the country. The effect of this new Policy is that tourism leaseholders who employ expatriate employees and workers without a valid work permit either through their respective companies or via their subcontractors will face the risk of imposition of financial penalties under any of the following applicable laws and regulations:

  1. Maldives Employment Act (Law No.: 2/2008);
  2. Maldives Immigration Act (Law No.: 1/2007);
  3. Regulation on the Employment of Expatriate Employees (2011/R-22); and
  4. Regulation on Work Visas (2010/R-7).

It is essential to abide by the obligation created by this new Policy. The leaseholders and other affected parties may institute own internal measures to have appropriate verification and reporting mechanisms to afford compliance.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Mihaaru