Many of you know that changes were made to the Kuwait labor law in July that were greatly for the benefit of the employee. Since then though, the law has led to confusion over calculations of indemnity and annual leave, and since the law has not yet been implemented by the court, this has led to even more confusion. My readers send me questions on a daily basis asking about annual leave – therefore, today I am going to be answering concerns regarding annual leave and leave in general.
Question: My company informed us that we can only get our annual leave payment after we return from our vacation. May I ask if it is right for them to make this decision even though it is different from the Kuwait labor law?
Fajer: It is general practice in Kuwait for employees to receive their vacation pay before going on holiday or leave. Your employer has no right to go against the Kuwait labor law unless it is to the benefit of the employee and with permission from the employer.
Question: Is it true that now we can take 45 days off instead of 30 a year?
Fajer: Article 70 before the amendments used to state “The worker shall be entitled to a 30-day paid annual leave. However, the worker shall not be entitled to leave in the first year of work except after at least nine months of service for the employer. Official holidays and sick leaves during the year shall not be counted as annual leave. The worker shall be entitled to leave in fractions of the year in proportion to the period he spent in actual service, even the first year of service.” (Rough translation, as there is no official English version yet). The new text reads: “The worker shall be entitled to a 30-day paid annual leave. However, the worker shall be entitled to leave after six months of service for the employer. Weekends, official holidays and sick leaves during the year shall not be counted as annual leave. The worker shall be entitled to leave in fractions of the year in proportion to the period he spent in actual service, even the first year of service.”
We can see two major amendments here:
1. Employees are entitled to leave after six months instead of nine months.
2. Weekends are no longer calculated in the annual leave.
So to answer your question, no. Employees are not entitled to 45 days of annual leave, but now only five days a week should be deducted from their leave (while currently it is common practice to calculate Saturday as a working day when it usually is not). This will give the employee six weeks in total a year, if they are taking their annual leave at one go.
Question: I have seen your responses on the Kuwait labor law in Kuwait Times and would like to get your valuable suggestions on an issue which I am unaware of. I joined a company in Jan 2016 and left the company in Sept 2016. So basically, my total service with the company is around 9 months. In this regard, I would like to know whether I am eligible for claiming my annual leave cashable amount, if I have not used any leave from the start.
Fajer: Yes you are eligible for leave for every month you have worked, which is 2.5 off days for every month worked usually (depends on your contract). Therefore, you should be getting around 9 x 2.5, which totals to 19 days. This you should receive in cash. Kindly note that you have one year to request any monetary benefits from your employer, and since you left more than a year ago, you might not be eligible for your benefits.
Should you have any questions or concerns, or you require a consultation, please email me at email@example.com.
By Attorney Fajer Ahmed