Wouldn’t you love a job that gives you a five-month summer break? I know I would. It looks like Bahrain’s MPs are setting some amazing work-life balance goals for the rest of us with exactly such a summer holiday.
Bahrain has been grabbing headlines recently because the workforce here gets 49 days of paid leave.
That’s 30 annual leave days and 19 public holidays. In addition, there is also a total of 55 sick days in a year, including 15 fully paid, 20 half pay and 20 unpaid.
All of this is of course not a patch on the five-month hiatus of the MPS which is about 150 days. Although parliament chairwoman Fouzia Zainal issued an official order to MPs to show up for meetings of committees over the summer recess, the kingdom’s lawmakers have not exactly inspired confidence about their work record – the final session of parliament before the summer vacation ended early because only 12 of the 40 elected MPs were in their seats.
Since MPs are well-paid for their services to the kingdom (MPs receive a monthly salary of BD4,750, including allowances, while parliament’s two vice-chairmen pocket BD5,000 and its chairwoman picks up BD5,400), a summer without any work done would mean they would be paid around BD1 million for no work done.
In tumultuous India, where stand-offs between the ruling party and opposition often bring parliament sessions to a fruitless end, the 16th session saw about $28,432,800 of taxpayer money wasted without anything productive to show for it – except, one can argue, the exercising of democratic rights by the opposition.
It would be unfair to suggest that elected lawmakers only work when in parliament – after all, they have responsibilities in their constituencies and being a politician is so much about meeting the public. But all that is justified only when they show up in parliament for the critical work of debating laws that affect thousands of lives.
Bahrain is much smaller than many countries which elect representatives and the work of caring for their constituencies probably takes less time and it makes more sense to fit it during the time when parliament is not in session.
A British MP gets an annual 80-day break from Westminster, which is 45 days more than an NHS nurse gets, 15 more than a teacher, and in general 52 days more than most jobs.
Down Under, MPs in New Zealand meet for 93 days this year and the Australian House of Representatives meets for just 65 days.
But that’s not the lowest attendance record – the almost-3,000-member National People’s Congress of China gets together only once a year for a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, the news that workers in Bahrain gets 49 days leave annually moved one MP to declare that the high number of paid leave, especially public holidays, was negatively affecting the productivity of businesses since it meant that workers draw a salary for 12 months but work for just 10 months.