ASPECTS OF THE KUWAIT LABOUR LAW
Kuwait has a robust private sector which employs a large number of expatriates. Expatriates provide services in many areas of the economy ranging from the oil and gas sector to the financial and business sectors.
Health & Safety:
Employees should be protected from physical hazards and occupational diseases at work. For this reason, employers are obliged to take necessary precautions to protect their employee’s welfare.
Employers are also required to do the following:
- ensure the work area is clean and well ventilated, sufficiently lit and in good sanitary condition
- supply first aids kits in visible areas and within reach of the employees. These kits should contain medicines, antiseptics and bandages.
An appropriate transport should be provided by the employer to his employees working in areas not reached by public transport. An appropriate accommodation with drinkable water and means to obtain supplies should also be provided by the employer if his employees are working in areas away from populated areas.
Kuwait Trade Union Federation:
The Kuwait Trade Union Federation is committed to prevent the abuse of immigrant or expatriate laborers. The Federation provides free of charge legal advices to laborers and assists them to take action against their employers.
Human Rights Committee (HRC) at the National Assembly handles complaints of any form and matter. Any complaints can be sent to the HRC through letter, fax, and phone call or by visiting the National Assembly building. If a person does not want to visit the National Assembly, he can call the Committee directly to discuss his concerns.
HRC focuses on immigrants who have a hard time in obtaining their passports from their employers. Immigrants are required to send a signed letter written in Arabic, stating the facts of their case, their civil ID, passport number, country of origin and the name of their employer. They can send it to the Committee by fax and will be treated in strictest confidence.
An employee is entitled to a compensation for injuries related to work. The employee does not have to prove that the employee was at fault as long as the employee is not guilty of gross malpractice or injured himself intentionally. The amount of the compensation is based on the severity of the injury. When the injury results to dead, the compensation is equivalent to the total amount of 1500 days salary or more. The current legal blood money is KD 10,000. For employees with permanent disability, a compensation equivalent to the total amount of 2000 days salary or more will be given. One and one-third times the legal blood money will also be provided. A percentage of what would be due for a total permanent disability is the calculated compensation for partial permanent disability.
A lump sum payment also known as termination compensation is given to employees when the employment is terminated.
Employment contract will automatically expire at the end of the fixed period stated in the contract. If the employer renews the contract and the employee is willing to work for another period then same conditions will be applied. If the employment does not state any conditions regarding termination of contract before the end of the fixed period, either party can terminate the contract. The party that terminates the contract must compensate the other. If the employer terminates the contract, the employee will receive compensation limited to his wage earned from the termination day until the end of the contract. If the employee resigns from his work before the end of his contract, employer’s compensation is limited to his actual loss.
An employee is entitled to a sick leave provided they have a satisfactory medical report for:
- The first six days of illness on full pay
- The next six days on three-quarters pay
- The next six days on half pay
- The next six days on quarter pay
- The next six days without pay
This entitlement is the total entitlement in one year and not per period of sickness.
A female employee assigned to work a man’s job must be given equal compensation. Female employees have the same standard working hours as male employees but they are not allowed to work between 7pm to 6am. However female employees working for clinics, pharmacies, hotels, nursery schools, homes for the handicapped, airlines, tourist offices, theaters, and entertainment industries are allowed to work beyond the standard working hours. Female workers working in cooperative societies, public utilities, beauty salons, tailoring shops, banks and offices may work during night time but only until midnight. MSA&L may extend night-time working hours during Ramadan, on Eids, and public holidays. Transportation must be arranged by the employers for female employees working at night.
A pregnant woman is privileged to have a maximum of 30 days maternity leave before the date of delivery and 40 days after delivery. A pregnant woman can also be absent from work up to 100 days, consecutive or not, after the maternity leave but without pay. A medical certificate stating that the person is not yet fit to work needs to be presented as basis for the additional absences incurred after the maternity leave. This maternity leave will be forfeited on day-per-day basis until her annual leave are all taken.
Eight hours a day and 48 hours per week is the required working hours for an adult worker. An employee must be permitted to have a one hour rest or break every after five consecutive hours of work. This one hour rest or break is not included in the computation of working hours.
An employee has the liberty to enjoy one whole day off per week. This day off is without pay and is traditionally scheduled during Fridays. But this is not a legal requirement in Kuwait. There are several days in a year during which an employee is entitled to enjoy with full payment. Eg: Hijri New Year’s Day, National Day etc.
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