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Domestic Labor Law: Out of sight, Out of mind
December 1, 2018, 4:59 pm

A new study out last week exposes the shocking lack of awareness and compliance with the Kuwait Domestic Law No68/2015 that was ratified by Parliament in 2015. Despite its enactment more than three years, over 60 percent of respondents in the study said they were not aware of the Domestic Labor Law and its various Articles regarding the hiring and employing of household workers.

The study by the Kuwait Society for Human Rights (KSHR) and titled, ‘The Rights of Domestic Workers in the State of Kuwait between Theory and Practice through Law 68/2015’, analyzes the impact of the law on domestic workers, employers, recruitment agencies and human rights organizations. The study also examines public awareness to the Domestic Labor Law, as well as the effectiveness and implementation of the law since its enactment in 2015.

The fact that nearly two-third of respondents in the study were unaware of the Domestic Labor Law is profoundly surprising. While the lack of awareness could be attributed to the low educational level among most domestic workers and ignorance of legal matters, an even more alarming reason is the indifference of employers to the law. Clearly there is a need to rigorously implement the law. Existing policy gaps, including a lack of enforcement mechanism, as well as legal loopholes allow for the law to be easily flouted by the unscrupulous.
The study found that 56.6 percent of the sponsors failed to comply with the labor laws, especially with regard to paying indemnities to their household workers.

It is worth noting that Domestic Labor Law No. 68/2015 gives household workers enforceable labor rights for the first time and bringing them in line with existing labor laws for the private sector. These include a maximum 12-hour working day with rest periods, weekly day off and 30 days of annual paid leave.
Article 16 of the Domestic Labor Law states that: Upon termination of the contract between the domestic worker and the employer, the employer must pay the domestic worker all of her/his entitlements as set forth in the contract and stipulated in this law.

Moreover, Article 23 of the law states that end-of-service remuneration for the domestic worker is to be allocated for payment after completion of the contract duration. The amount is set at one month’s wage for every year. Some of the other salient facts revealed by the study include:
Over a third (38.15%) said their domestic helpers worked for more than 10 hours per day, while 39.88 percent added that they did not give their workers more cash for extra chores done by them.

While 70 percent of the employers said they supported giving a weekly day off to their workers, 30 percent said they denied them a day off, as their services were needed throughout the week. More than 90 percent of the employers said they fully agreed with offering return tickets to the helpers at the end of their service, only 8 percent maintained they did not support the rule.

Only 11 percent said they deducted from employee’s wages the amount for accidentally breaking things or doing something wrong, while 89 percent said they did not support this policy.

While nearly 90 percent of employers said they paid their workers on time, around 10 percent admitted there had delayed payment of monthly wages.

With 60 percent of respondents not aware of the labor law, clearly the “law has not reached the required level of exposure in the relevant sectors, as the level of knowledge of employers, domestic workers, recruiters and civil society is superficial,” said the study authors. They recommended that more needed to be done to raise awareness about the law, “The competent authorities and relevant stakeholders should launch massive campaigns to boost awareness among all parties about the rights and duties of the domestic helpers.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that effective 1 April 2019, the recruitment of all domestic workers to Kuwait from abroad will come under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL).

The cabinet recently issued Decision No. 614/2018 to this effect, transferring all domestic labor related tasks that were stipulated in Decision No. 68/2015 from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, and the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM). The decision also includes transferring the Domestic Labor Department from the Ministry of Interior to PAM.

Disclosing the new developments to the media, the Director of Public Authority for Manpower, Ahmed Al-Mussa, said the cabinet had earlier issued Decision No. 1036/2018 on 25 July of this year, which temporarily assigned the task of domestic workers from abroad to the Ministry of Interior.

He further clarified that the recommendation to specify a period for the transfer was referred to the cabinet, indicating that the transfer requires certain procedures such as the formation of organizational units approved by the Civil Service Commission (CSC). He said the Ministry of Finance will also have to specify the budget for this purpose.



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