I am writing again this week from Silicon Valley, located south of San Francisco and known as the hub of technology and financial companies. Silicon Valley is also known for how companies treat their employees, and I wrote last week about all the companies that I had meetings with, such as Facebook, Google, Asana, HP, Airbnb and so on, and the perks they have for working there. The perks range from things like flexible hours, free healthy meals, bikes and game rooms or more lucrative perks such as paying for children’s education or providing resources for employees to start a new venture. The companies understood how important it is to invest in a team, recognizing them as a main asset.
While seeing this and being here, I have realized how much space companies in Kuwait have for improvement. I have chosen a few emails that reflect the previous statement.
Question: I have been working for a company for 10 years and I received a ticket every year for the past 10 years to go back home to my country. This year my boss told me that I can no longer get a free ticket, and since it’s not mentioned in my contract, I don’t legally have the right to it.
Fajer: This is question doesn’t have a straight yes or no answer. According to Kuwait labor law’s article 55: “Remuneration means the basic payment the worker receives or should receive in consideration of his work, in addition to all elements stipulated in the contract or the employer by-laws. Without prejudice to the social allowance and the children allowance granted by virtue of law no. 19 of the year 2000, the remuneration shall include the payments made to the worker on periodic basis such as bonuses, benefits, allowances, grants, endowments or cash benefits.”
This article has been previously interpreted by experts and judges that annual benefits such as tickets will be part of the salary – this in return can be interpreted that the cost of a ticket that was given to you for the last 10 years has now become a periodic benefit that should be included in your remuneration and your termination indemnity, and therefore many lawyers will argue that if it is to be included in the termination indemnity, it should be included as a yearly benefit even if the employment contract is not being terminated.
Question: I have read somewhere that as a breastfeeding mother, my employer should build a safe space for me to breastfeed and nurse. Is this true?
Fajer: According to article 25, a working woman will be allowed a two-hour break during her working hours in order to feed her baby, according to conditions set forth in the ministry’s decision. The employer will establish a nursery for children below the age of 4 at the place of work in the event where the number of female workers exceeds 50 or the number of workers exceeds 200.
Yes, this is true if there are more than 50 female employees in your workplace or 200 employees in total. And this is not just for nursing, but also for babysitting any kids under the age of four. Unfortunately though, this does not seem to be common practice in Kuwait! I hope more and more companies in the future provide their employees with such perks.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed