Kuwait cracks down on state employees faking work

Fingerprint and a finger Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Gulf state is taking several measures to reform its public sector working practices

Kuwait is to prosecute 38 state employees for bunking off work and having their colleagues use silicone fingertips to fake their presence on a biometric attendance system.

The system also requires employees to have their faces photographed - something their colleagues avoided - and the lack of pictures triggered an investigation into the issue, the Gulf News website reports.

The Kuwaiti government employs about a fifth of the working population in the Gulf state and a vast majority of Kuwaitis prefer to work for the state, rather than in the private sector, which is manned mainly by non-Kuwaitis.

But the government has also been trying to reform work in the state sector, where ghost employees and absenteeism have been big issues. An official report in 2011 found only half of all state employees were showing up at work.

As part of a crackdown last year, the government stopped the salaries of 900 employees over absenteeism. In one case, an employee had been receiving a salary despite not showing up for work for more than 10 years. Another had been abroad for 18 months without giving their employer any explanation or reason.

Not quite the record set by an Indian teacher who was finally sacked after 23 years of absence, but it looks like the Kuwaiti government still has some way to go in getting its staff to pull their fingers out.

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