Ramadan Mubarak to everyone. Before I start with my topic, I just want to say that I am very grateful to my readers (and writers), for giving me the chance to explain the law in the simplest way possible through my articles, with the aim of helping as many people as possible live a peaceful life.
Even though Ramadan is an Islamic religious month, in Kuwait the practices seem to affect everyone. Our schedules change, even our work environments change. It all makes sense to those who are used to Ramadan – we wake up late because we stay up late. We work fewer hours because we spend more time with family, but for an expat who’s just moved here, Ramadan can be very confusing and maybe even hectic. Therefore, today I am going to be answering Ramadan related questions.
Question: Our shifts have changed in Ramadan from 8 am to 4 pm to 11 am to 4 pm and 8 pm to midnight. We are now working nine hours instead of eight. We come in six days a week and are forced into coming twice a day, instead of one continuous shift. Is this legal?
Fajer: No, the requirements from your employer are not legal. The law clearly states the following: “It is forbidden to allow workers to work for more than 48 hours per week or eight hours a day, except in such events as are specified in this law. Working hours during the month of Ramadan shall be equal to 36 hours per week.”
Let me explain. The working week is six days a week and not five, even though most offices give the sixth day off to the employee as paid leave. Six working days means six hours per day for Ramadan as the maximum is 36 hours per week. As for the double shifts, it’s legal, if it’s not more than six hours a day.
Eating in public
Question: I moved to Kuwait recently and was not aware that eating and drinking in public was prohibited in Kuwait. My assumption was that fasting was for Muslims only and as a non-Muslim, I thought I would be able to eat and drink freely. A police officer saw me and warned me not to do so, and I am wondering what the basis behind this is.
Fajer: There’s a law in Kuwait that was issued in 1968 (nearly 50 years ago!) that prohibits people from eating or drinking in public, and prohibits others from assisting people from drinking or eating in public. There’s an up to one month jail punishment and/or a fine of up to KD 100 for violators. You might have also noticed that restaurants don’t open until a later time, and only offer delivery for earlier hours – that’s also by law.
Question: My boss just told me that I will be working on Eid and am not entitled to the public holiday. He also said that I will not be compensated with overtime, instead I will just get another day off. I don’t think that’s right, what can I do?
Fajer: Article 68 of Kuwait labor law states fully-paid official holidays are as follows:
a- Hegira 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 (PBUH) Birthday (Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi): 1 day
g- National Day: 1 day
h- Gregorian New Year: 1 day
In the event where the worker is required to work during any of the above mentioned holidays, he shall be entitled to a double remuneration and an additional day off. I think the law is extremely clear that you should be compensated with double your daily wage, which is your monthly salary divided by 26, as well as an additional day off.
I hope the above was helpful and Ramadan Mubarak to you and your families!
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed