Any period during which the worker is working, is at the employer’s disposal and carrying out his activities or duties is called working hours. Working hours under Kuwait labor law are a maximum of 48 hours per week and 8 hours a day for a 6-day work week. This is generally speaking and for most office jobs; some specific jobs have their own restrictions under bylaws from the ministry.
Employees will not be required to work more than 5 consecutive hours without a one-hour break in between. The 8 working hours do not include a one-hour break, and therefore the start and end of a workday can be from 8 am to 5 pm, that is 9 hours in total.
Laws under Kuwait labor law:
Without prejudice to the provisions of article (21) of this law, it is forbidden to allow workers to work for more than 48 hours per week or 8 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. However, it shall be allowed, by a ministerial resolution, to reduce working hours in hard jobs, jobs that are harmful by nature or for severe circumstances.
a- Workers shall not be required to work for more than five consecutive hours a day without a break of a minimum of one hour that is not included in the working hours. The financial, commercial and investment sectors shall be excluded from this provision and the working hours shall be equal to eight consecutive hours.
b- After having obtained consent of the minister, workers may be required to work without a rest break for technical and urgent reasons or in office work provided that the total daily working hours is one hour less than the number of daily working hours specified in article (64).
Question: We are construction workers and we are behind schedule with the contractors, and therefore we are now working 24 hours. I have afternoon shifts on some days, and it is extremely hot outside. I do not think I can keep working like this.
Fajer: It is illegal for you to be working in the heat outdoors from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm from June 1 until the end of August, and the company can be ordered to pay a KD 200 fine per employee. You will need to file a complaint against your employer in this regard.
15 hours a day
Question: I am presently working here in Kuwait as a domestic worker. I just want to ask some questions because it is really bothering me. Is it normal to work 15 hours a day? I start working from 9 am to 3 pm; 3 pm to 3:30 pm is my lunchtime, then 3:30 pm till 4 pm I wash too many dishes. Sometimes I finish at 4:30 pm. After I finish washing the dishes, I rest until 5 pm. My employer had given me a schedule earlier providing two hours of rest from 4 pm to 6 pm, but now she does not follow the schedule. Then I work from 5 pm till midnight. My dinnertime is 10 pm to 10:30 pm. The rest of the time, I work. I don’t have time to call my family. I wash my clothes at midnight. So I sleep at 1 am. Is it good to work every day like this? I feel tired all the time.
Fajer: According to the domestic workers’ law that has been effective since 2015, the maximum hours that a domestic worker should be working is 12 hours a day, which should include breaks. The maximum overtime is an additional two hours, for which the employer should pay an additional half-day salary for those two hours. This means you should be able to get 10 hours of personal time a day. I know that because of the nature of the work, this law might seem difficult to monitor – domestic workers are working inside homes, where no one can assess how many hours they are working, but hopefully people will soon realize the importance of treating other humans with the respect and dignity they deserve.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmad