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More than 30,000 Kuwaitis take sick leave to extend Eid break – report

More than 30,000 Kuwaitis take sick leave to extend Eid break – report

The government is investigating high absence rates over the last two days

Kuwait’s minister of social affairs and labour has reportedly warned of legal ramifications after a reported 31,000 state employees took sick leave to extend their Eid Al Fitr break.

The government gave employees Sunday, Monday and Tuesday of this week off to mark the end of Ramadan celebration but tens of thousands were said to have obtained sick leave certificates from health centres for Wednesday and Thursday.

“Those who wanted to rest and extended their Eid break to nine days while people were keen on processing administrative transactions should retire and rest,” Hind Al Sabeeh was quoted as saying by local media.

She said those who did not work would be “held accountable” and rules and regulations would be strictly applied for any unexcused absence.

“It was ridiculous to see senior officials and heads of departments show up at work while junior employees were not there to deal with people and routine office work,” the minister added.

Kuwaiti newspaper Al Nahar reported up to 31,000 employees obtained sick leave certificates for Wednesday and Thursday, with similar practices occurring during other public holidays in recent years.

In July 2015, some 30,000 public sector employees were said to have obtained similar leave certificates to extend their Eid break.

The country’s Civil Service Commission said it would be investigating sick leave cases, including a probe of patient healthcare records and doctors that signed for absences.

Legal action against doctors was said to be one avenue being considered.

Recent economic difficulties linked to lower oil prices have led to governments across the Gulf cracking down on high rates of absenteeism and efficiency.

Read: Oil slump prompts Gulf states to take shine off cushy government jobs

This has seen new fingerprint registration systems introduced to the ire of some employees.

Read: Kuwait government workers protest over new fingerprint registration system

A Kuwait government report in 2011 found that half of state employees were absent from work between January and March, costing the country more than KD10.5m ($35m).

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