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Vacation time

Vacation time

Bahrain has just approved a proposal to increase the annual leave for private sector employees by a week. Predictably, businessmen and employers are annoyed.

January 14, 2010 2:35 by

According to former BCCI board member Abdulhakim al-Shammari, some of the businessmen lose up to BD100,000 ($265,227) in wages during a single public holiday. “If we are less productive, we make up in other ways and over the long term, the burden will be on the consumer,” he told Gulf Daily News.

Bahrain already suffers from increasing levels of absenteeism, both in the public and private sectors.

According to Bahrain’s Civil Service Bureau (CSB), sick leave cost the government BD4.5 million ($12 million) in 2008, with civil servants taking 178,000 days off – the equivalent of five years’ sick leave. “The government loses BD117 ($310) per day and the days off in 2008 were an increase from the 165,000 recorded in 2007,” CSB president Ahmed al-Zayed told MPs in February.

“It is very expensive for someone to be absent from work,” Mohammed Saleh Abdullatif, the chief medical officer of Bahrain-based Gulf Petrochemical Industries told Gulf Daily News last year.

“It is not only the absence of the worker – it is getting a replacement for them as well. For our company, it [sick leave] is about BD3,500 ($9,280) a month,” he said.

According to him, doctors were sometimes forced to issue medical certificates to people not genuinely ill. “I have heard of some health centre doctors being attacked because they refused to give sick certificate. Ethically, as a doctor, I should not give sick certificate to a person that does not deserve it,” he said.

So are the bosses justified in their anger about the increase in holidays? Or is it only fair that private sector employees should work as much (or as little) as public sector staff?

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