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Kuwait and Bahrain propose changes to working week

These workers at a factory in Manama, Bahrain, could soon be enjoying a three-day weekend if the government goes ahead with proposed changes Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed
These workers at a factory in Manama, Bahrain, could soon be enjoying a three-day weekend if the government goes ahead with proposed changes
  • Bahrain to extend weekend
  • Kuwait focus on daily hours
  • Rest periods backed by law

Lawmakers in Kuwait and Bahrain are pushing for major amendments to the working week, aiming to improve workers’ rights and boost the work-life balance in the two Gulf states.

In Bahrain, the focus is on extending the weekend to three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. 

“There is an urgent need to keep pace with global advancements, including global economic systems,” said MP Mohammed Al Aliwi, one of the five proposers, quoted by The Daily Tribune.

“However, Bahrain, as an Islamic country with its customs and traditions regarding Friday, which is considered a sacred day, makes it difficult to accept working on this day, even for a limited number of hours, due to its more emotional impact than economic effect,” he added.

The extended weekend is aimed at providing employees with more time for personal pursuits, fostering a better work-life balance.

Kuwait is primarily focusing on regulating working hours in the private sector, Al-Seyassah, the local daily newspaper, reported.

MPs Badr Nashmi, Faris Al-Otaibi, Abdul Hadi Al-Ajmi, Badr Sayyar and Osama Al-Shaheen have advocated for limiting weekly working hours to 42, or seven hours per day, with exceptions delineated in the law.

Additionally, during Ramadan, weekly hours would be further reduced to 36. 

The proposal also suggests that a worker cannot be employed for more than four consecutive hours per day without a rest period of at least one hour.

The rationale behind these proposed changes underscores the importance of recognising the human element in economic development. 

Sharjah, one of the seven emirates that makes up the UAE, set a precedent for shorter weeks in 2022. The other UAE emirates followed suit in 2023, allowing federal government employees to work a shorter week.

A study by 4 Day Week Global, a non-profit organisation, claims that 86 percent of Sharjah respondents demonstrated higher productivity, and 90 percent achieved a higher work performance. About 90 percent also said that job satisfaction increased.

Last year, the country’s telecom operator e& by Etisalat also kicked off a four-day week trial, becoming the first company in the tech sector to do so.

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