Bahrain employers told to provide food-drink stations
Manama, July 1, 2014
Employers in Bahrain have been warned to provide food and drink stations for workers toiling in hot summer temperatures during Ramadan.
Staff are also being advised to report companies that fail to make proper provisions during the Muslim holy month, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
People are banned from eating and drinking in public during daylight hours, but companies are required to ensure non-Muslim staff can get refreshments in private - particularly those who risk dehydration by working outdoors as temperatures soar above 40C.
A summer work ban comes into force today, forbidding any outdoor work between midday and 4pm during July and August.
However, people are still required to work before midday and for two-and-a-half hours before sunset in unrelenting heat.
"We urge employers to abide by both these regulations - to ensure that no employees are working during the summer ban hours and to help worksites with necessary provision for non-fasting workers to have their food," Labour Ministry Under-Secretary Sabah Al Dossary told the GDN.
"Employers must make sure that worksites, especially those far from urban centres, have facilities like water and a private place for labourers to have their food without offending those who are fasting.
"This is also a requirement for workers to rest during the ban hours, especially in the present weather conditions."
He warned about the health risks of failing to ensure proper drinking facilities and said those who ignored the rule would face action.
Al Dossary also urged staff to report companies that ignore the rules.
"It is a crime to violate these laws," he said.
"If any employee feels that he is deprived of these rights, they should call us and we are here to help them."
He revealed 30 labour and health inspectors would be out in force to ensure firms respect the rules, with both himself and Labour Minister Jameel Humaidan conducting surprise visits.
Fines for flouting the summer work ban range from BD500 ($1,317) to BD1,000 per worker on duty, and imprisonment.
Karama Human Rights Society chairman and Bahrain Human Rights Group board member Ahmed Al Malki said volunteers would be out in force to ensure workers' rights were protected.
"The heat is too much to bear and it would be bad if any employer overlooked these laws, which are in line with human and labour rights of workers," said Al Malki.
"During Ramadan, ideally we prefer that no worker eats or drinks in public as it is against the law - but at the same time non-Muslims should be helped.
"As of now, it is too early to see if there were any violations but we have seen that many contractors have considered revised working hours during Ramadan.
"It is good that they start early in the morning like 4.30am and wind up early afternoon. We have been notified of such work times adopted by big companies during Ramadan."
Migrant Workers Protection Society chairwoman Marietta Dias said caring for the workforce was not only a humanitarian duty, but also made business sense.
"By making sure your employees are protected and taken care of, you are investing into your business and it will help you in return," she said.
"By helping non-fasting employees with facilities to drink and eat in private, you are helping to reduce absenteeism during this season." - TradeArabia News Service