New laws in Bahrain could harm workers holiday entitlement
Private sector employees in Bahrain could actually lose holiday days, despite changes to the law that increased people's annual leave to 30 days, a report said.
The Cabinet yesterday (April 14) agreed that the 30-day annual leave set out in the new Labour Law should be counted as calendar days, according to the report in the Gulf daily News, our sister publication.
That means an employee who books 30 days off work could also have weekends and public holidays that fall within that period deducted from their annual holiday entitlement.
Yesterday's decision by the Cabinet follows complaints about the new Labour Law by businessmen, who claimed their companies would suffer if their staff were given 30 days off every year, in addition to public holidays and weekends.
The old labour law entitled employees to 21 days' leave, plus public holidays and weekends - increasing to at least 28 days' leave after five years.
However, Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan previously told MPs that basing the 30-day annual holiday entitlement on the calendar system was unfair - since it would rob workers of their vacation.
He did not attend the Cabinet meeting yesterday because he is on official business abroad.
The issue has been hotly debated since the new private sector Labour Law came into effect in September, with the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) among those who opposed the 30-day annual holiday entitlement.
Businessmen claimed last month that annual leave costs had doubled and the new regulations were costing companies millions of dinars.
"The decision recommended by the ministerial committee for legal affairs and approved by the Cabinet has taken into consideration the utmost interest of the economy and businessmen," Minister of State for Information Affairs and official government spokeswoman Sameera Rajab told a Press conference after yesterday's Cabinet meeting.
"The Cabinet's decision was taken after consultation with the Legislation and Legal Opinion Commission after balanced arguments were presented on whether it should be calendar or work days."
Labour Ministry Under-Secretary Sobah Al Dossary told the GDN that the new system would now come into effect, unless it was contested.
"We (the Labour Ministry) have several times explained our stance on the issue, which is that 30 should represent work days and not calendar days," he said. "We will have to implement the calendar days for now until it gets legally contested."
He added that one way around the law would be for people to request holidays in five-day blocks. "It will be down to the way an employee words his leave request," he said.
"Instead of asking for 30 days, it will be divided into five days (Sunday to Thursday) - five days - five days - five days."
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