Sector Labour Law TOP
Labour regulation in the
private sector are enforced by the Ministry of Social Affairs & Labour
(MSA&L). The points discussed below are neither complete nor authoritative.
As well as domestic sevants,
persons on temporary contractors of less than six months are excluded from
the scope of the private sector labour law. Where an employer’s head office
is outside Kuwait, the labour law of the country where the employer has
its head office, governs expatriates working in Kuwait, unless the employer
has a branch in Kuwait which concluded the contract with the employee in
which case Kuwait law applies.
of Employment TOP
An employee’s terms of service
are contained in his employment contract, which may be for a fixed time
or it may be indefinite. A fixed time may not exceed five years.
The labour law specifies
minimum limits below which terms of service may not fall, and if a clause
in his contract gives an employee a lesser benefit than his right under
the law, he is entitled to the minimum specified by law for that particular
An employment contract may
be verbal or in writing. In either case, it must show at least:
· The remuneration
· A description of
· The date of appointment
· Its duration (if
Where a contract is verbat
then, in the event of a dispute, either side can use circumstantial evidence
to prove what is in it. If the contract is in writing, it must be in Arabic.
A translation into another language may be attached but the Arabic version
is authoritative, ie only the Arabic version will be considered in resolving
a dispute in a cout of law.
An employee may be hired
on probation for a 100 days at most. During this time he may be terminated
without notice, though accrued indemnity but not holding pay must be paid.
The same employer may not put an employee on probation more than once.
& Deductions TOP
Remuneration includes basic
pay, incentives, commissions, obligatory bounses, gratuities from third
parties and allowaces from which the employee benefits (such as housing
allowance), but excludes allowances on account of expenses and profit shares,
Payment of a bonus is obligatory if it is stipulated in the contract of
employment or in the by-laws of the firm or it has been paid in the same
amount regularly every year.
What is included in total
remuneration is important, as this is the figure that must be used when
calculating terminal indemnity or compensation on account of injury. Where
an employee is paid on a time basis the last salary payable is used, but
if he is paid on a piece-work basis then the average wage actually payable
to him during the previous three months is used.
There is no minimum wage.
Salaried employees must be paid at least once a month. Piece-workers and
those on hourly or weekly wages must be paid every two weeks.
Persons working for a subcontractor,
who has failed to pay their salaries, may demand payment from their employer’s
superior contract to the extent that the latter owner their employer money
for work done. When an employer goes bankrupt the outstanding salaries
and termination benefits of his employees must be paid before his other
An employee may not be obliged
to buy products made by his employer, If he owes his employer money than
not more than 10% of his salary may be deducted to pay off his dept and
he may not be charged interest. Where an employee’s Salary is attached
on account of debts to third parties, the deduction is limited to 25 %
of his salary.
The working hours of an adult
are limited to eight hours a day and 48 hours a week. A rest break of at
least one-hour must be allowed after five consecutive hours of work. Rest
periods are not included in the calculation of working hours. These standered
hours may be increased or decreased by the MSA&L in certain cases,
such as hotel works.
An employee is entitled to
one full day off without pay a week. The traditional day off is Friday,
but this is not a legal requirement in Kuwait. An employee also has the
right to eight public holiday’s a year with full pay as follows:
· One day on Hijri
· One day on Ascension
· Two days for Eid
· Two days for Eid
· One day for the
prophet Mohammed Birthday (PBUH)
· One day for National
Liberation Day is not yet
a statutory holiday in the private sector.
An employee with up to five
years of continuous service is entitled to 14 days leave a year on full
day, provided he has completed one year of services, and 21 days after
more than 5 years of continuous service. Official holidays and days of
sickl leave may not be counted a part of annual leave. The employer has
the right to fix the date of leave.
An employee must be given
his holidays pay before he goes on leave and the last salary payable before
the holidays must be used to calculate the amount due. If an employee’s
services are terminated that he is entitled to a cash payment in lieu of
accumulated leave, irrespective of the number of years of leave due, and
payment for the accumulated leave must be calculated on the basis of the
last salary payable on the date of termination.
Subject to a satisfactory
medical report, an employee is entitled to sick leave 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
· The next six
days without pay
This entitlement is the
total entitlement in one year and not per period of sickness.
An employee may be required
to work overtime provided it is necessary and the employer’s order is in
writing. Overtime rates of pay are:
· 1.25 times the
basic hourly rate for excess hours worked on ordinary days
· 1.50times the basic
hourly rate for all hours worked on the weekly day off
· Twice the basic
hourly rate for all hours worked on public holidays.
Overtime may only be worked
on 90 days in a year and is limited to 2 hours a day, 6 hours a week, and
180 hours a year. An employee has the right to refuse to work overtime.
A women performing the same
work as a man must be paid equal remuneration. The standard working hours
for women are the same as for men.
But may not work at night
(7pm to 6 pm ) except in clinics, pharmacies, hotels, nursery schools,
homes for the handicapped, airline and tourist offices, theaters and Entertainment
They may work up to midnight
in cooperative societies and public utilities, beauty salons, tailoring
shops, banks and offices.
Night-time working hours
may be extended by the MSA&L during Ramadan, and on Eids and public
holidays. Employers are obliged to arrange transport for women working
A women is entitled to maternity
leave to a maximum of 30 days prior to delivery and 40 days after delivery
on full day. Thereafter she may be absent from work without pay for up
to 100 consecutive or non-consecutive days, provided she presents a medical
certificate stating that she is ill as result of gestation and parturition.
The annual leave entitlments of a women who makes use of her maternity
for leave privileges in any year are forfeit on day-per-day basis until
her annual leave entitlement for that year is extinguished.
When his employment is terminated,
an employee is entitled to a lump sum payment called termination indemnity.
For those paid monthly, termination
indemnity is 15 days remuneration for each complete year of service for
first 5 years and 30 days for each complete year beyond 5 years, but the
total indemnity is limited to one and a half year’s remigration. For piece-rate
workers and those paid on an hourly, daily or weekly basis, the indemnity
is 10 days remuneration for each complete year of service for the first
5 years, and 15 days pay for each complete year beyond 5 years, subject
to a limit of one year’s remuneration. In both cases part years are calculated
An employee who resigns with
less than five years service is not entitled to indemnity. One who resigns
with five years or more of services is entitled to 50% indemnity. But employees
are more made redundant (irrespective of length of service), who reach
retirement age, who are disabled at work, or who die are entitled to full
indemnity. And woman who marriage while she is an employee and who resigns
within six months of marriage is entitled to full indemnity.
Notices & penalties TOP
All employees related regulations
must be issued as circulars or bulletins written in Arabic. Miscreant employees
may be peanlised provided the employee issued regulations specifying the
acts that are punishable. Penalties must be progressive and are limited
· Only one publishment
may be infected for each act of misbehavior
· A penalty cannot
be imposed for an act committed outside the work place unless it was related
· A pay deduction
cannot exceed 5 days have a month
· A suspension from
duty cannot exceed 10 days a month
· A penalty cannot
be imposed for any act once 15 days have elapsed science the act was proved
or since the usual date for the payment of wages.
Where an employment contract
is for a fixed period, it terminates automatically at the end of the period,
But if both parties then continue to implement it, it is deemed to be renewed
indefinitely under the same terms and conditions.
If either party terminates
the contract before the end of the fixed period (and there is no clause
in the contract to cover this) then the party terminating the contract
must compensate the other. Where termination is made by the employer, compensation
is limited to wage the employee would have earned from the day of termination
to the expiry of his contract. Where it os the employee who quits, compensation
is limited to the employer’s actual loss.
Where an employment contract
is for an unlimited period, either party may terminate it by notifying
the other in writing ar least 15 days prior to termination (Where the employee
is paid more frequently). Either party may pay the other 15 or 7 days salary,
as appropriate, in lieu of notice.
An employer has the right
to terminate an employee without notice, and without paying indemnity and
compensation, if the employee:
· Commits a wrongful
act resulting in serious loss to the employer
· Repeatedly disobeys
the instructions of the employer
· Disobeys the employer’s
instructions concerning saftey at work on a single occation
· Has been absent
from work for more than seven consecutive days without due cause
· Has been convicted
of a crime affecting honour, honestly or morality
· Commits an act
against public morality in the workplace
· Assaults a fellow
employee, the employer or his agent at work or on account of work
· Fails to carry
out his obligations under the terms of his contract or the labour law
· Has used fraud
to obtain work
· Reveals any secrets
relating to his employment
An employee has the right
to quit without notice before the expiry of his contract, and to collect
his indemnity and not pay compensation, if:
· His employer fails
to abide by the provision of his contract or the labour law
· The employee has
been assaulted by the employer or his agent
· To continue in
work would endanger his health
An employee’s contract is
terminated if he dies. It may be terminated if he fails (without fault)
to perform his work or he exhausts his entitled to sick leave. In all these
cases his indemnity must be paid.
An employee’s contract is
automatically terminated if his firm goes into liquidation or merges with
another, or there is a lockout, or the firm is sold or inherited, the new
owner while reserving his right to indemnity, though the employee may continuo
in service with the new owner while reserving his right to indemnity for
his previous service.
& Safety TOP
Employers are obliged to
take precautions to protect their employees against physical hazards and
occupational diseases work. They are also required to ensure that places
of work are clean, well ventilated, adequately lit and in sanitary condition.
Employers must supply first aid kits containing medicines, antiseptics
and bandages, and place them visibly within reach of employees.
Detailed standards in these
matter are contained in resolutions issued by the MSA&L in consultation
with the Ministry of public Health.
Employees who work in areas
not serviced by public transport must be provided with suitable transport.
If they work in localities far from populated areas, the employer must
provide suitable accommodation, potable water and the means to obtain supplies.
If an employee is injured
at work, the employer must report the matter to the local police station
and the MSA&L. The injured employee has the right to treatment, at
the employer’s expense, in any government hospital or private clinic as
the employer deems suitable, A doctor’s report, stating the period of treatment
required, any disability arising from the accident and the employee’s fitness
to continue in work, must be obtained.
During treatment, an injured
employee is entitled to full pay for the first six months and, thereafter,
half pay until he dies, or recovers, or is proved to be permanently disabled.
An employee has the right
to compensation for work-related injuries without having to prove that
the employer was at fault, provided he did not injure himself intentionally
or was not guilty of gross malpractice (such as expressly contra-vening
But where his injuries have
made him more than 25% disabled or he has died of them , he or his family
will be entitled to compensation even if he was guilty of gross malpractice.
Compensation varies with
the severity of the injury. Where death has occurred, it is the greater
· 1500 days pay
· the legal blood
money currently KD 10.000
For total permanent disability,
it is the greater of:
· 2000 days pay
· one and one-third
titimes the legal blood money
For partial permanent disability,
compensation is calculated as a percentage of what would be due for total
Trade union & Dispute
The formation and activities
of trades unions are strictly controlled. Only on union may be established
for workers of any firm of profession and person may not join mare than
To join a union, a person
· Be at least 18
years of age
· Have a certificate
of good conduct from a complete authority
An expatriate must also
· Have valid work
· Have been in Kuwait
for 5 consecutive years
The right to vote in the
general assembly of a union or to be elected to its executive board is
restricted to Kuwaitis. Expatriate members only have the right to delegate
one of themselves as their representative to express their views before
the executive board.
Labour Disputes TOP
If a dispute arises between
an employer and all or some of his employees regarding terms of work, the
following procedures are mandatory:
· Direct negotiation
must take place between the employer and the employees. If an agreement
is reached, it must be registered with the MSA&L within seven days
· If no agreement
is reached then the parties should request the MSA&L to intervene
· If the MSA&L
fails to settle the dispute within 15 days, it must refer the matter to
Labour Disputes Arbitation Committee in the courts. The employer or his
representative and representative of the employees may appear beforethis
committee to a limit of three representatives each. The committee’s decision
is final and binding.
Labour Disputes TOP
The private sector labour
law also lays down specific procedures which must be followed by individual
pursing claims against their employers.
The dispute must be submitted
to the MSA&L before a law suit is started. The Ministry must call the
two parties together and try to settle the matter amicably. If no settlement
is reached then, within two weeks of being asked by the employee, the MSA&L
must refer the dispute to the Labour Court, along with a summary of the
matter, the evidence of the parties, and the Ministry’s own comment’s.
Within three days the court must fix a date for a hearing, and notify both
The case is heard in a summary
The tome limit for filing
cases is one year after employment is terminated. Labour cases are exempt
from the usual court fees but if the employss loses then the court may
order him to pay anominal amount on account of costs.
Regulations under the private
sector labour law are issued at regular intervals.they only become effective
when published in Al-Kuwait Al-Youm,the official gazette.
In july 1997 a new draft
labour law was finalised by the MSA&L.Terminal indeminity ,annual holidays
and sick leave are to be increased and the number of public holidays is
to be extended to twelve.Haj leave,compassionate leave and Idda leave for
new widows,all fully paid ,are to be introduced.The new law is expected
to make the payment of salaries within seven days of their due date mandatory,and
may also bring in a minimum wage.In November 1999 the MSA&L announced
that a revised draft law would be submitted for approval to the Council
of Ministers before the end of 1999.
and Civil Rights TOP
Expatriates who are finding
it difficult to get their legal rights in a work related or other dispute
may find the following organisations helpful.
· Labour Departments
at the ministry of Social Affairs and Labour
has five labour Deparments,one in each governorate.Labour disputes should
be referred to one of these departments,along with
documents to substantiate
a claim.The Department will give advice on the merits of a case and follow
the procedures mentioned on the previous page.
Trade Union Federation TOP
has a special interest in preventing the abuse of expatriate labourers.It
provides legal advice to labourers free of charge and also helps them to
take action against their emloyers.
· Human Rights Committee(HRC)
at the National Assembly
on any matter,whether related to employment or other issues,can be sent
to the HRC by letter or by fax,or can be discussed on the telephone or
by visiting the National assembly building in person.Persons who are refused
entry to the National Assembly building should call the Committee directly.
The HRC are particurlarly
interested in expatriates who are having difficulty in obtaining their
passports from their employers,and these persons are asked to send a signed
letter in arabic stating the facts of their case,their civil ID and passport
numbers,country of origin,and the name of the their employer by fax to
the Committee who will treat the matter in strictest confidence.