KUWAIT CITY, Feb 21: The new Kuwait labor law has become law after being published in the official Kuwait Gazette on Feb 21 relieving expatriates and renewing their hope of a better future working in the country.
The law, which has updated provisions regarding salary, public holidays, paid leave, sick leave as well as end of service payments deemed suitable for employees and their employers, was approved by the National Assembly last year and was sent to the Kuwait Cabinet before being sent to His Highness the Amir for endorsement.
Expatriates in Kuwait expressed a positive outlook to the Arab Times saying that their rights should now finally be fully-considered by employers. “This is an excellent initiative by the government of Kuwait in order to protect the rights of the expatriate community in Kuwait, however, it still remains to be seen if the law will be fully implemented, which is equally important,” says Sidiq Valayakath who is President of the Federation of Indian Muslim Associations (FIMA).
Valayakath added that this initiative still does not include the rights of domestic workers who make a large portion of the working community in Kuwait. “It is our desire that domestic workers are not overlooked as well. The provisions that I believe will have the most impact are the provisions on annual leave and payment of salary,” he said.
The new labor law mandates that salaries of all employees be sent to banks before the 7th of each month. It also allows employees paid leave on all official holidays, a day off every week, and 30 days of annual leave even during the first year of work. Article 76 grants 21 days paid Hajj pilgrimage leave to an employee who has spent two consecutive years in service under the same employer and has never performed the Hajj pilgrimage previously.
Leave must also be granted to the employees on all the 13 days of public holidays and if workers are made to work on public holidays, they must be given a bonus of half-a-day’s salary in addition to a full day’s pay.
Furthermore, a worker is entitled to 40 days of paid sick leave, with full pay for the first 10 days, 75 percent pay for the next 10 days, 50 percent pay for the following 10 days and 25 percent pay for the last 10 days. An employee is entitled up to 30 days of unpaid sick leave if all his/her paid sick leaves are used up.
According to article 51 of the labor law, a worker will get complete end-of-service compensation at the end of the contract period. The employee is entitled to full indemnity if the contract is terminated by the employer, or the employment contract ends without being renewed. A female employee can get full indemnity if she terminates the contract from her side due to marriage within a year from her marriage date.
“This is very good news for us as expatriates in Kuwait as this new law has made us believe that Kuwait has become more concerned with our basic rights as workers like a lot of other developed countries around the world which is what we everyone in living in a foreign country should expect. I am especially relieved about the end of service indemnity provisions so now I can work hard knowing I will be taken care of,” said Rasha Goma, an Egyptian female working at the North Africa Holding Company in Kuwait.
Article 53 states that the employee is entitled to half month’s salary for every year if the employee resigns after more than three years and less than five years in the service. If the employee resigns after five years but less than ten years of service, he is entitled to 75 percent of the monthly salary for every year. Beyond 10 years, the employee gets a full month’s salary as compensation for every year of service.
Other provisions include rights of employed women including article 22, which prohibits the employment of women from 10 pm to 7 am except those who work in treatment homes or other institutions specified in a decision issued by the Minister of Social Affairs and Labor.
Amna Al-Jaray, Action Global Communications country manager said that what has always concerned her was the period of maternity leave available; “Previously I was allowed 40 days maternity leave and had to include with it my 30 days annual leave. I worked for a full year without leave because I’ve used up my holiday for the maternity period.”
Under the new labor law, pregnant women can now take a paid leave of 70 days as long as they give birth within this period of time. New mothers can also be granted an unpaid leave of four months and the law also prohibits employers from dismissing female workers during this period. An employer is also obliged to establish a day care center for children below four years of age if more than 50 women or 200 men work in the establishment.
Employees who meet with accidents on the job or on their way to and from work must receive full salaries throughout the recovering period slated by a physician. If this period exceeds six months, then the employer pays half the salary until the injured employee recovers, dies or his/her handicap is confirmed.
Regarding employee termination, the new law says that the employer must give a notice of three months and no worker can be terminated while on leave. The notice period for an employee to resign his or her job is also three months. The law also prohibits employers from firing workers without a reason, as a result of activities in NGOs or because they demanded their rights.