CIVIL servants with sick relatives either at home or abroad will soon be eligible for a week off work in a bid to tackle rampant absenteeism.
The Shura Council yesterday approved the plan, despite originally proposing a full month off work for those with ill family members.
MPs had earlier given it the go ahead after slashing the proposed leave entitlement by three weeks.
However, it only applies to civil servants whose immediate relatives are ill and who can provide a medical commission report confirming the patient needs to be accompanied.
Shura Council services committee secretary Dr Nasser Al Mubarak said he agreed that four weeks off was too much.
"No one here thinks that accompanying a sick relative is unnecessary, but having a month as proposed earlier by the (Shura) Council is too much and would lead to disruptions at the workplace," he said at yesterday's Shura Council session.
"A lot of parents already skip work and take it from their annual leave whenever their children have chronic diseases or are set to undergo an operation, so in reality civil servants take time off anyway - but we are here ensuring that they are doing so through proper procedures.
"This leave will only be given whenever an immediate relative is sick and it should first be called for by a medical commission.
"In severe cases, the time off could be extended to a month considering that treatment could be abroad rather than in Bahrain, which could take a lot of time.
"But that too should be ordered by a medical commission."
Civil Service Bureau (CSB) president Ahmed Al Zayed told MPs in February that sick leave had cost the government BD4.5 million last year, with an absenteeism rate equivalent to 178,000 days.
"The government loses BD117 per day and last year's days off were an increase from the 165,000 recorded in 2007," said Mr Al Zayed.