The National Assembly's health and labor committee yesterday approved the first ever draft law governing the affairs of domestic laborers in Kuwait, granting them a number of key human rights. Head of the committee MP Saadoun Hammad said the approval came after deliberating all its articles and reducing them to 62 from the original 75 and after debating the opinion of various government bodies concerned with domestic helpers. Domestic helpers in Kuwait, whose numbers exceed 600,000, are governed by a decision by the interior ministry because they are not covered by the labor law in the private sector.
Hammad said that the committee added an article to tackle the issue of maids fleeing their employers to new ones, stipulating that new employers will have to pay a certain amount of money in addition to airfare. The law bans recruitment offices from advertising for maids on the basis of religion or color or any other humiliating way. It also requires recruitment offices to provide maids with insurance throughout the work period.
The draft law, which requires the approval of the National Assembly and acceptance of the government to become law, introduces KD 45 as minimum monthly wage and bans the appointment of those who are under 20 years and above 50 years of age. The law stipulates eight working hours per day, introduces public holidays and that maids must get paid weekly rest days and annual leave. In addition, employers are not allowed to seize their passports. The legislation also stipulates a one-month end of service indemnity for each year of work and introduces fines on employers for delaying the payment of salaries.
In another development, the National Assembly's human resources committee yesterday discussed with Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh a new pay-scale scheme sponsored by the government for Kuwaiti government employees. Secretary of the committee MP Ahmad Al-Qudhaibi said that the draft scheme envisages that salaries of 30 to 40 percent of government employees will be raised by 20-25 percent at an estimated cost of KD 350 million. Qudhaibi added that 35 percent of the employees will see their salaries unchanged because they are already too high. Social allowances being paid to employees will not be touched, the lawmaker said. The scheme was prepared by the government in order to overcome major differences in salaries among over 300,000 Kuwaiti employed in the public sector.