Private sector employees may receive new benefits such as additional pay for any task carried out beyond their stated contractual job descriptions, a guaranteed two-day weekend, with sick leave applicable from the very first day they start employment.

MPs in their weekly session yesterday unanimously approved proposed amendments to the 2012 Private Sector Employment Law, presented by five MPs, led by Jalal Al Kadhem.

They believe that the move would ensure a better working environment in the private sector while also granting more rights for both Bahrainis and expatriate employees.

Under the proposal, workers would be entitled to no less than 48 hours of rest, with work over a normal five-day week reaching up to 40 hours in total, with any extra hours calculated as overtime.

Meals, rest periods and prayer breaks would be an entitlement and considered as part of an eight-hour working day.

Currently, employees are not eligible for sick leave with pay during a three-month probation period. Under the new plan, they would be entitled to it immediately upon the presentation of a doctor’s certificate.

The amendments would also entitle workers to an annual holiday of 30 working days, unless they chose to carry out paid work, instead of taking their annual leave, as stated in current law.

“We have to bridge the gap between privileges that civil servants receive and those in the private sector,” said Mr Al Kadhem. “Improved rights means a better working environment that ensures more productivity, which will benefit the whole sector,” he added.

“There are currently loopholes in the law that some employers may use to exploit workers.

“There has been a global debate on a three-day work week for private sector employees. Bahrain’s law still states that no less than 24 hours should be granted off during a week and, we believe, it should be no less than 48 hours.

“Some mothers, we understand, are unable to attend to their babies at home after pregnancy. Such leave should be determined through mutual consent and granted at the beginning or end of the working day.

“During a probation period, an employee could suffer from ill health and they shouldn’t be forced to come to work or face a pay cut if they are too poorly to attend. They should also not risk being dismissed if they fail to show up.”

MP Mamdooh Al Saleh said the amendments would make working life fairer in the private sector.

“Bahrain is a country that is proud of its strong private sector and this needs to be reflected through enhanced privileges and rights,” he added.

The Supreme Council for Women (SCW) and Bahrain’s two labour unions’ federations have backed the amendments.

Parliament’s financial and economic affairs and other services committees have recommended the amendments be given the go ahead.

The government will have six months to draft the legislation into proper law.

The Bahrain Chamber, however, has rejected the proposals, describing the current law as balanced.

Copyright 2022 Al Hilal Publishing and Marketing Group Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (