Bahrain set to introduce new labour law
Manama, April 24, 2012
A new legislation that includes tougher punishments for companies that flout health and safety standards, grants private sector workers 30 days of annual leave and increases the length of maternity leave will be introduced in Bahrain.
The new-look labour law was passed by the Shura Council yesterday (April 23), after being delayed by conflict between the upper chamber of the National Assembly and parliament over certain articles.
But the Shura Council yesterday voted in favour of MPs' amendments on the last two disputed articles, one of which sets out compensation for workers unfairly dismissed.
Under the new law, employees sacked unfairly would qualify for an entire year's salary in compensation.
Meanwhile, employers who violate the new labour law would face fines of BD200 ($530) to BD500.
MPs had refused to back down in the stand-off over the two articles, prompting the Shura Council to finally approve them as parliament wanted yesterday.
Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan described the decision as a 'milestone' for the private sector.
'The differences between the two legislative chambers are not huge and I believe that councillors should pass parliament's amendments on the two conflicted articles,' he said before the vote.
'The new law will revitalise the private sector labour market in a way that will take Bahrain to unprecedented heights, considering it would give more rights to employees - besides ensuring that employers' rights are protected at the same time.'
The law will be referred to His Majesty King Hamad for ratification and will be implemented on the same day it appears in the Official Gazette.
Under the law, female private sector workers would get 60 days of maternity leave instead of the current 45.
They would also be entitled to another 15 days off without pay if additional time was needed, in line with their counterparts in the government sector.
Contracts signed under the existing law would have to be updated to include benefits granted under the new legislation.
However, if employees actually lose benefits as a result new contracts have to be drawn up.
Failure to implement proper health and safety standards at work could carry jail sentences of up to three months and fines of BD500 to BD1,000, or both. The punishment is doubled for a repeat offence.
Meanwhile, employees would be granted sick leave within a year of up to 15 days with pay, 20 additional days with half pay and 20 more days without pay.
The sick leave could be extended by up to 182 days if ordered by a medical commission.
Employees aged 15 to 18 who are not working on a professional contract would also get 30 days' annual leave. – TradeArabia News Service