The government, on Wednesday, increased annual payments on quotas for expatriate workers to MVR 2,000.
As per the new regulation published on the government gazette, previously secured quotas can only be used for three months following the announcement of the new rates.
After the conclusion of this period, it will be mandatory to renew quotas for all expatriate workers currently working in Maldives.
According to the regulation, employers can request quotas via the National Job Centre's job portal, after which approval will be granted for those that meet the set criteria, provide the required information through the Expat Online System and pay the fee.
Employers are required to transfer the MVR 2,000 payment within 12 months of their respective applications being approved. However, the payment deadline for previously released quotas is 12 months following the implementation of the new regulations. Employers are allowed to collectively pay fees for a maximum of three years.
Hiring expatriates without applying for a quota or in excess of state-approved allocations is illegal.
The regulation also mandates employers to send a written confirmation of employment to foreign workers before they are brought to Maldives. Additionally, employers are responsible for arranging suitable accommodation for the workers.
Furthermore, expatriate workers brought to Maldives must be registered at the island of their employment. If the worksite is an industrial or uninhabited island, employees must be registered at the nearest inhabited island.
Specifications concerning the deposit fund kept with the Ministry of Economic Development for each individual worker as well as the circumstances under which it can be refunded are also elaborated in the regulation.
The implementation of the new regulation on employing foreign workers comes in the wake of several recent expat-led demonstrations that took place amidst renewed concerns from rights groups as well as the general public, over the continued exploitation of expatriate workers in Maldives.
Violations reported include human trafficking, withholding of wages, poor living conditions, and other human rights violations. Furthermore, the aforementioned low quality of life has exacerbated the disproportionate effect of Maldives' ongoing COVID-19 outbreak on the vast migrant population.
Bangladeshi nationals make up the majority of the expatriate population in Maldives, which numbers at over 144,600. Authorities had previously estimate that 63,000 of the expatriate population are undocumented.
In June 2020, the United States 'Trafficking in Persons Report' placed Maldives in its 'Tier 2 Watch List' for failing to prevent forced labour, fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, debt-based coercion and human trafficking. Maldives has remained on Tier 2 for the past two years.
On July 30, the government announced the implementation of a 'National Anti-Human Trafficking Action Plan 2020–2022', which will be carried out in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC).