Manama: Thousands in Kuwait took fake “sick leaves” to take advantage of the weekend preceding the Eid break and took Wednesday and Thursday off ahead of the two-day weekend in order to accumulate a nine-day Eid break.
Hind Al Sabeeh, Kuwait’s Minister of Social Affairs and Labour, has warned of legal and administrative measures against state employees who failed to report to work following the Eid Al Fitr break.
The state gave its employees three days off (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) to celebrate the feast marking the end of Ramadan.
The employees in their scheme resorted to health centres in order to obtain “legal” sick-leaves 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,” the minister said. “Salaries are public funds and I cannot tolerate abuses. Those who did not report to work will be held accountable,” she said, quoted by Kuwait media on Thursday.
Reports said that several offices were eerily empty amid a high level of absenteeism amid state employees.
Sources told Al Nahar newspaper that up to 31,000 employees took out sick leaves to cover for their absence from work on Wednesday and Thursday.
“The rules and regulations will be strictly applied to deal with any unexcused absence from work,” the source said. “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.”
One report said that an ad-hoc committee might be formed to look into the sick-leaves accorded to fake patients and as a prelude to hold doctors accountable for abusing their position and giving out bogus certificates.
“These employees from various ministries and government establishments and institutions have secured the sick leave from public and private hospitals, allowing them not to report to work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” a source at the Civil Service Commission (CSC) said.
The sick leaves extend the Eid holidays that started on Friday by five days, including the two-day weekend.
However, the CSC said it was launching a thorough investigation into all the sick leave cases to check whether they were genuine, assess their compliance with the regulations and to determine responsibilities.
The probe included checking the patients’ health records and the names of the doctors who signed the leaves.
Kuwait’s Annual Leave Report, covering the period between January and March 2011, said half of the state’s employees were absent from work under various excuses, costing the country’s treasury more than 10.5 million dinars (Dh131 million).