Kuwait Law: The Labor Law Post

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

The majority of the emails I get are regarding employment rights or should I say the lack of. I completely understand why I am getting all these questions. I am personally tired of how every time I walk into a store and ask an employee how long their shift is I get ridiculous answers like 8AM to midnight!

I realize how tough it is to go and speak out to your employer about a violation since I’ve been in that situation before. I also realize how bad Kuwait’s reputation has been over the years because of the way employees are being treated.

Recently I was hired by a company to help with some employee issues. The owner of the company stated that he didn’t know how he was supposed to treat his employees so I made an easy to read table with all the obligations of an employer as well as the rights of the employees. The full version of the law is hard-to-read and long so I rewrote it into a more direct and easy to understand language and placed them in a table for you below.

The law articles are mentioned in brackets for easy reference and the full version of the law is available [Here]. Click on the link below to view the rest of the post that includes the easy-to-read the table.

       
       
      The bare minimum that needs to be offered to employees by law
       
       
  Work Contract Content   Work contract needs to be in writing and must contain:
a) Signing/effective dates of the contract
b) The amount of remuneration
c) The term of the contract if applicable
d) The nature of work (Article 28)
e) Probation period (Article 22)

Note: Needs to be in writing, but even if it is not written it is deemed to exist!

       
       
  Work Contract Copies   3 copies should be signed. One for each of:
1) Employee
2) Employer
3) The Ministry
(Article 28)
       
       
  Work Contract Language   All employee contracts shall be written in Arabic. Any other language may be translated, but in case of dispute Arabic will prevail. (Article 29)
       
       
  Term of Contract   Can be:
1) Not specified
2) Specified, if so should not exceed 5 years
(Article 30)
       
       
  Renewal of Contract   If the contracts term is specified and both parties continue to implement it, then the contract is renewed for the same period with the same conditions. (Article 31)

Note: Renewal does not affect the workers entitlement under the previous contract! In other words the employee still deserves his entitlements. (Article 31)

       
       
       
  Probation Period   Needs to be written in the contract and must not exceed 100 days, either party may terminate without notice throughout the probation period. (Article 32)

Note: If the employer is the terminating party then they must pay end of service benifts.

       
       
  Maternity Leave   70 days paid leave provided that the employee gives birth within this period. (Article 24)

Note: Employer can not terminate employee on maternity leave

       
       
  Breastfeeding   An employee that is breastfeeding shall be entitled to a two hour break everyday (Article 25)
       
       
  Transportation
Accommodation
  An employer in general is not responsible for transportation or accommodation. An employer is only responsible for transportation or cccommodation free of charge if:
a) The employees are working in a remote area
b) If the employees are working on the execution of a government project.
(Article 34)
       
       
  Penalties   Penalties can not be imposed on an employee unless he/she have been informed in writing of the act attributed to him/her, an investigation is held and their defense is heard. (Article 37)
       
       
  Deduction   An employee’s penalty should not exceed more than five days deduction in one month. If the original punishment exceeds five days, then it is attributed to the next month.

Example: Punishment 10 days deduction. 5 days are deducted in July and another 5 in August (Article 38)

Note: The employer shall keep the proceeds of all deductions from remunerations of workers in a fund allocated for use in the social, economic and cultural matters that benefit the workers. (Article 40)

       
       
  Right to Terminate (employee)   The employee shall have the right to terminate his contract without notice and still be entitled to end of service benefits if:
1) The employer is not abiding by the terms in the contract
2) If the worker was assaulted
3) If continuing to work will endanger safety of the employee
4) If the employer cheats, commits a crime or does something morally unacceptable.
(Article 48)
       
       
  Working Hours   It is forbidden to allow employees to work more than 48 hours a week or 8 hours a day. (Article 64) Workers cannot work more than 5 hours without a 1 hour break minimum that is not included as a working hour. (Article 65)
       
       
  Overtime   The overtime hours shall not exceed:
1) 2 hours a day
2) 3 days a week
3) 180 hours a year or 90 days a year. The employee shall be entitled to a 25% increase pay for the overtime hours. (Article 66)

Example: I make KD10 a day, for working 5 hours, that’s KD2 an hour. So my overtime rate is KD2.5 per hour.

       
       
  Weekend   The employee is entitled to a paid weekend which is equal to 24 continuous hours after 6 working days. (Article 67)
       
       
  Official Holidays   a) Hegeira New Year: 1 day
b) Isra’ and Mi’raj day: 1 day
c) Eid Al-Fitr: 3 days
d) Waqfat Arafat: 1 day
e) Eid Al-Adha: 3 days
f) Prophet’s Birthday (Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi): 1 day
g) National Day: 1 day
h) Gregorian New Year: 1 day (Article 68)

Note:
If an employee works on a public
holiday, the employee is entitled to double his/her pay and another day off (Article 68)
       
       
  Paid Leave   Every employee is entitled to 30 days paid leave after working for 9 months. (Article 70)
       

Employees: If you think your rights are being violated, my next post will be about what do to do about it legally.

Employers: If you are in violation of the law, please STOP. Here is a check list for you, please be honest with yourselves. [PDF Document]

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
Have a Kuwait law related question? Email me at ask@fajerthelawyer.com

The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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62 comments, add your own...


  1. Fatemah says:

    What’s the difference between a full time job and a part time job?
    Where’s the Human Resources to discuss about this since you somehow got in contact with the manager?
    What are the policies and procedures of the work which has a signed contract proving that the employee understand the rules and whatever following of the job?
    Has there been a breach of violation of the policies and procedures?
    Are you sure that the employee that you met working are the same employees or the ones that have been mistaken due to unable telling the difference between Asian employees who happen to be part timers?
    Have you ever conducted an interview with more than one employee ?

    • Frederick says:

      Lady, it’s either your in denial or just plain blind. Majority of low income jobs here in Kuwait does not experience the full protection and benefits of the law. There is a noticeable improvement, but we still have a long way to go.

    • D. says:

      1) The hours. More specifically the number of hours.
      2) What?
      3) What?
      4) A breach of violation? What?
      5) Are you even trying?
      6) ” I am personally tired of how every time I walk into a store and ask an employee how long their shift is I get ridiculous answers like 8AM to midnight!”
      This sentence would make no sense if she’d only talked to a few. Perhaps you should suppress your kneejerk reaction to defend Kuwaitis from any accusations of abuse from the non-Gulf Arabs we know you hate until AFTER you read and make sure you understand what was said?

  2. Neo says:

    Thanks Fajer. Awesome Post.

    Would like to know with regards to the Paid Leave Clause : -

    Is it mandatory to work for 9 Months after every leave to be entitled to get leave & leave salary ?

    Suppose an employee wants to take 30 days paid leave just 5 months after his previous leave , due to unavoidable circumstances. Will he not be entitled to a any leave or leave salary ?

    • praetorius says:

      it’s called an “emergency leave” and is deducted from whatever “leave days” balance (if you have any), otherwise it’s considered unpaid leave.

      • Neo says:

        Praetorius, Am aware what an “Emergency Leave” is and not asking about taking an Emergency Leave.

        In my company, they enforce a rule saying that ” Each Employee has to work for 9 Months (Mandatory) after each annual leave , and then only will he / she be entitled to annual leave ” So is this correct ?

        What I know is that the 9 Month Rule is applicable for New Employees who have joined , and not for the existing employees.

        Would like Adv.Fajer’s take on the issue. Thanks

        • praetorius says:

          you mentioned “due to unavoidable circumstances”, hence my assumption that it goes on ‘emergency leave’ clause.

          fwiw, i work in a government institution and the rules say you can take a vacation every:

          1. 6 months after your last
          2. anytime as long as there is no conflict with personell and staffing needs at the workplace and that you have enough balance leave to avail.

    • aaa says:

      The company is not required to give you paid leave before the 9 month period. Most companies will usually let you leave if you need to but unpaid.

      • Neo says:

        Hi aaa,

        What I know is that the 9 Month Rule is only applicable for New Employees who have joined , and not for the existing employees.

        In my company, they enforce a rule saying that ” Each Employee has to work for 9 Months (Mandatory) after each annual leave , and then only will he / she be entitled to annual leave ”

        Would like Adv.Fajer’s take on the issue.

        Thanks

    • Fajer Ahmed says:

      you not entitled to any days leave only after 9 months of work, you can not rightfully take a day of until then. but if your boss is generous then he can let you.
      and if your boss is not very understanding then its just unpaid leave.

  3. hzahid says:

    What is the standard rule for calculating the End of Service Benefits?

    • praetorius says:

      equivalent of 15 days per year, for the first 5 years (calculated as 2.78 month worth of salary) and full month salary for succeeding years.

      • hzahid says:

        Thanks for the reply. Please explain the 2.78 month worth part a bit more.

        • praetorius says:

          it’s actually 2.88

          15 days per year x first 5 years = 75 days
          75 days ÷ 26 days (paid working days in a month) = 2.88 months worth of your salary.

          so let’s say you have 500kd as salary monthly. you will receive 1,440kd as payment for the 1st 5 years. add 500kd per year after the 5th year of service.

    • Fajer Ahmed says:

      I can tell you in boring words, but I really want to share my table

  4. Ali says:

    I just want to confirm. If the probation period is not stated in the contract then there is no probation period? My contract makes no reference to any probation period but at the end does state that the contract will abide to Kuwaiti labor laws in anything not stated within the contract. So I wasn’t sure.

    • praetorius says:

      imho, probation starts on your 1st day and not to exceed 100 days.

      • Ali says:

        I get that the law states that. But based on MY understanding of that part of the law it seems that if no probation period is stated in the contract then there is no probation period whatsoever. Now I’m not a lawyer so that’s why I was asking. Also, if you look above you will see that Fajer wrote “NEEDS to be written in the contract and must not EXCEED 100 days”. This just supports what I thought but I wanted confirmation. I do appreciate your input though so thanks.

        • rt says:

          Company can give you more than what is mandatory by labour law but can’t deduct anything from mandatory conditions… so even if probation is not stated, it is there as it is mandatory as per labour law.

    • Fajer Ahmed says:

      the law states that it has to be stated in the contract. so I guess you do not have a probation period if it is not written in the contract.

  5. George says:

    Our company makes us work overtime without any pay. We only get the corresponding overtime work as time off. Our company deducts expenses like telephone expenses directly from our salary without informing us. Also our company keeps the passports of all Asians. Is this right? Is there anything we can do for this? Can the company block your resignation and local transfer. I have worked over 5 years in the same company, but now I want to transfer to another local company in my same field.

  6. Matt says:

    I like the photo. I shows eight guys….none are actually working.

  7. Mohammad says:

    a great post thanks Fajer

  8. Samar says:

    I have been working in a private company for 3 years and since then almost 45 people resigned 5 of which had to go to court to settle their issues. we are never paid on time we work sun to thursday from 8am to 6pm with a lunch break from 1pm to 1:30 pm. I applied for my leave and this thursday is my last day yet they have not paid me my leave salary nor have they paid us for june and july. Many people have complained to the shaun and the company is still able to slide past all the accusations. They also take all our passports and refuse to pay salaries until we hand them in. I would complain but i feel until i go to court and resign nothing will happen. How is it that with all the complaints they have not received a warning from the Shaun aren’t there any penalties for such companies or if a company has “wasta” they are able to fly by?

    • praetorius says:

      you answered your own questions.

    • Bing says:

      Hi sir!

      Good morning!

      I’ve been working in my company for 2 years and 4 months and I’m degree holder.And now, new company hired me but they required me to get No Objection Certificate from my old employer, but unfortunately my old company is not giving me the No objection Certificate since according to them I need 3 years employment first before they will give the NOC.Is this correct? Do I need 3 years first before I can work in other company?

  9. Kuwait says:

    I hear a lot about employers forcibly keeping passports of employees ‘for safekeeping’ as though employees are 6 year olds. Please elaborate on this disgusting practice.

    • praetorius says:

      Passport is a personal property. anybody can demand to keep it with them but with the uncertainty of keeping their job? that might be the reason why expats are “forced” to handover their passports.

  10. nero says:

    thanks for this post…..

    can you please post some detailed laws governing foreign workers, especially domestic workers who are very prone to abuse in that part of the world?

    thanks!

  11. nero says:

    article 5 of the law you posted says it is inapplicable to domestic workers. many thanks in advance.

  12. nahin123 says:

    Thank You for this post. When I was working in a store in Avenues, my manager only gave us 30 minutes of break in between work and if I was a few minutes late he’d throw a fit at me. I was always furious about this but at that time I had no choice. I always knew there must’ve been a law like this. I don’t work there anymore, but I’ll print this out and make sure that they get their 1 hour break.

    Also, I have a question. On weekends, many stores give a 2pm-11pm shift to their employees. Is that considered a malpractice?

    Thank You again and will be eagerly waiting for your next post.

    • praetorius says:

      afaik, most of the time it’s a matter of keeping your head down and get your monthly salary, or be “arrogant” about your “rights” and find yourself out of work.

      most choose the former.

      the same argument can be made why the kafeel system is being frowned upon in ILO and elsewhere.

    • aaa says:

      Why would it not be? 2PM-11PM is allowed if you’re given a break in the middle, breaks aren’t counted as part of the 8 working hours. The break should be an hour though, not 30 minutes. Some sectors are allowed to not give breaks, I think Banks for example are legally allowed to not give you a break but have shorter working hours in response.

      The labor law says 8 hours a day/48 a week but it doesn’t say which 8 hours.

      My question is how some jobs only have 5 days a week but then make you work longer than 8 hours to “make up” for that lost day… the law makes it sound like that should be illegal.

  13. Neo says:

    Greetings Adv. Fajer,

    There is this rule that says Employers / Employees should give 3 months notice before termination / resigning from their work or else have to compensate accordingly ( In most cases I’ve heard is equivalent to 3 months of salary)

    With this rule in effect, how does it apply to a new employee who has joined and is under 3 Months Probation

    Would also like to know , if in the case

    a)His residence has been transferred , within the probation period

    &

    b)His residence hasn’t been transferred, within the probation period.

    Should the Employer give him a 3 Months Notice before letting him go ?

    Suppose he is fired within the Probation Period , is he entitled to 3 Months of Salary Compensation ?

    Thanks,

    • aaa says:

      No. Probation means that you can quit with no notice and they can fire you with no notice. You will not be compensated for 3 months, and they will not ask you to give notice if you want to quit.

  14. Rehab says:

    Its funny when a person in Kuwait speaks about law.

    My friend got jailed for 24 hour without any reason or case because he spoke against Kuwaiti employer for not giving proper wage.

    The Kuwaiti went to Police wasta maybe CID and locked my friend nor allowed him to make calls.

    If judiciary is corrupt then whom would you turn for help…

  15. Hanaa says:

    What if you’ve been with the company over 3 months, signed the initial offer but your visa still isn’t on the new company? Do you automatically enter into the permanent position or is there a formality in between? Doesn’t it have to be registered with one of the ministries before it’s considered final?

  16. SOS says:

    Let’s talk about this 1 hour break.. Is it included in the pay? For ex. We get paid for 8 hrs a day. Would this 1 hour be part of the 8? Or would I have to work 9 hours (with 8hr pay)?

  17. Saeed says:

    i am working in the company for 3years and 8 months and my leave balance is 50 days…. will company will pay me for these days or for 1 month only…..

  18. zian says:

    I am requesting for an emergency leave as my father is ill. Ive passed n submitted the requirements needed such as mdcal abstract of my father.his medical and test reports as well as pictures of him in the hospital. I have 2 guarantors who already signed as proof of my return.my question is do the company have the rights not to grant me my request?

  19. zian says:

    I have only been with the company for 10months..

  20. karen says:

    hello good day, I just want to know if can I resign in my existing private clinic but I’m just 7 months there. the working environment is not healthy for me already they let me overtime for 7 hours without pay before.for 2 times..sometimes we end up until 1 am.pls I need your advise for this matter

  21. Abood says:

    Please Help!

    My employers are deducting money from my monthly pay, claiming it cost too much to fly me into the country. So they are taking half my pay this month, and another half next month, which essentially accumulates to the cost of the flight that brought me into Kuwait.

    I work for a private company, and I am under contract. In regards to the law, do I have any grounds in getting my pay back? Do they really have any right in doing this?

  22. Lucas says:

    Hi There,
    I have heard that some people use day offs to “job search”.
    What is my legal possibility? How many days I can use?

  23. Arif says:

    Dear sir,

    I have been working for one private company since 11 years and my salary was 250 K.D and now they increased 50 K.D and they are saying this is only your increment and paying every month and they are saying that will not be added to your leave salary is it correct?
    Kindly advise me as soon as possible.


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