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Bahrain's Hotels Could Stop Hiring Women if Forced to Implement New Labor Law

Clause Provides Up to Six Months Unpaid Leave for Every Child They Have Under Six Years Old

By Mandeep Singh, Gulf Daily News, Manama, BahrainMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Dec. 12, 2012--BAHRAIN'S hotels could stop hiring women if they are forced to implement the new labour law.

They have spoken against a clause which gives women up to six months leave without pay for every child they have under six years old.

They said it would be "the end of the road" for four-star hotels if they were forced to give every female employee that benefit.

It comes as a meeting was held between members of the country's Four-Star Hotels Committee at the Days Hotel, Exhibition Avenue.

"We are also against the increase in paid maternity leave from 45 to 60 days, which is again too much," said committee chairman Hameed Al Halwachi.

Mr Al Halwachi said the hotels were already suffering from the effects of the financial downturn and last year's unrest.

"And if we have this situation when we are forced to give women six months off for three children, it becomes uneconomical for us to employ women," he added.

He said the increase in annual leave for all employees from 21 days to 30 was also not acceptable to the four-star hotels.

"Couple this with the other holidays, the compensatory days off and weekends, and we have employees not working for more than six months a year even while they get paid for a whole year," he explained.

He said a reasonable increase, from 21 days to 25, would have been in order, rather than increasing it to 30 days.

Mr Al Halwachi said the committee should have been a part of the discussions on the new law before it was formulated.

"We are badly affected and we need to clarify a lot of things," he added.

Last week, the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry's businesswoman's committee said Bahraini women could be seen as "undesirable" to employers with the implementation of the new labour law.

They said companies could opt out of hiring women because of the extended 60-day maternity leave and other benefits, adding that women are concerned that these advantages will backfire and would force the employers not to employ them.

The committee also revealed that government ministries had snubbed a proposal to hold a GCC Road Show on Bahrain in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, Riyadh, Kuwait and Qatar.

The event will be held from February 24 until 28, where the hotels will showcase their services and promote Bahrain to prospective customers in the GCC region.

"We wrote several times to the authorities, but have not received any response, so we have decided to do the show on our own," added Mr Al Halwachi.

The committee is also co-ordinating with the Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Authority to get more exhibitors, who come to Bahrain, to stay at four-star hotels. "We hope to do better business in 2013 than what we have done this year, but we need help from ministries and government bodies," said Mr Al Halwachi.


(c)2012 the Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)

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