Kuwait “new” labor law was written in 2010 to demolish the violations that were regularly occurring from employers towards their employees or should I say towards the members of the private sector. Unfortunately though because the law seems to be fairly new there seems to be some confusion on its articles and their application from my readers/clients. Some companies will do everything they can to save as much money as possible, and unfortunately to some, this means over working their employees, without taking into account that this can affect their business in many ways, creating a negative outcome instead of a positive one.
I would like to share with you an email I got from one of my readers, as the concerns he had are reoccurring in the emails I receive:
Weekend work and overtime
Q. I have viewed some versions of Kuwait labor law, and I am seeking your clarifications for the below:
1. Our employer is calling us to work during weekends, and is not reimbursing us with days off or overtime, is this a violation of the law?
Yes. According to Kuwait labor law you should be working six days maximum at eight hours a day. Now most employers give their employees Saturday as a paid day off. If they call you in one day of the weekend that is fine, but if you are working seven days a week, then that would be considered a violation.
2. What should I be expecting as remuneration for the days I work on weekends?
According to Article (67) of the law, you should be expecting 1.5 of what you are usually paid per day (divide your salary by 26) plus a day off instead of the one you worked.
3. Is it considered a violation that my employer is claiming that I am absent on public holidays, and deducting from my salary? He states that our company is operating under a normal schedule during Eid holidays and in the case that I do not show up to work, he will deduct from my salary.
Your employer is clearly violating the law. Holidays stated in Article 68, are as follows:
a- Higira 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
If you are working any of the above days then you should receive 2x what you are usually paid for a day’s work plus a day off.
Absconding vs canceling a contract
4- If points 1 – 3 are considered as violations from the employer towards employee, can I terminate my work contract?
Theoretically according to Article 48 of the law you can terminate your employment contract without providing a notice, but from experience you should really consider your options and take all precautions before proceeding to just not show up to work. Not showing up to work can put you in a really unstable position, your employer will be able to file an absconding case against you. Absconding cases in Kuwait can be very serious, so before you decide to terminate the contract I suggest you do the following:
1. make sure you have proof that you are showing up to work in a timely manner (maybe an attendance sheet?)
2. get a copy of your contract (Arabic or English)
3. you have proof of the violations (maybe an attendance sheet and a bank statement, so we can prove the money you are receiving from your employer are not corresponding to the hours you work.)
4. if you have worked on the above then I suggest you consult with a lawyer that you trust, it is always better to go to a lawyer before you get in trouble. If you cannot afford this step, you can email me and no promises but I always try to help when I can, if not then just skip this step and go to step 5 and/or 6.
5. I suggest you send an email to your manager stating their violations and the reason you are terminating your contract.
6. File a complaint in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Usually lawyers can do this for you, but you can do it yourself as well. The ministry will notify your employer and call him in to negotiate with you. Of course, just like I mentioned above, this is also very theoretical and in practicality does not work. Often, the employer will not show up to the negotiation or will not be notified at the correct address, as some companies do not write their actual address. So if all fails here, or you do not come to agreement the case is referred to court.
I hope the above has been useful to you and to others in the same situation as you, if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to email me email@example.com.
By Fajer Ahmed