Before you even think of how to adapt to life in another country such as Kuwait, you must first be acquainted and generally informed about work-related matters, especially if that is the primary reason for you being overseas in the first place.
In this post, we will look at some of the basic provisions of the Kuwaiti Labour laws specifically about working hours, leaves, as well as vacations. If you’re planning to go to Kuwait for work, or even if you already employed here, you may want to take note of some of the key points that we will detail in this brief article.
Leave and Vacation of Workers in Kuwait
Disclaimer: All citations and references in this article have been lifted from the Kuwait Labour Code which is regulated and enforced by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour (MOSAL). All information used and shared through this content is specifically intended for information-sharing only. To learn more about the employees’ official leaves and vacations under the Kuwaiti Labour Code, you may refer to the MOSAL’s resource material for foreign workers available here.
Working Hours and Holiday Leave (Section 2 – Article 64) (Specific provisions, however, apply to juvenile workers and women – Articles 21 and 24)
In principle, employees are allowed to work for NOT more than 48 hours per week or eight (8) hours per day whereas working hours during Ramadan should total to only 36 hours per week.
Also, employees are entitled to at least one (1) hour break for every 5 hours of continuous work, wherein this (1) hour break shall not be considered part of the regular working hours.
Employees can also choose to have at least one (1) day off per week. This is usually scheduled on a Friday and without pay.
If an employee is made to work in excess of the statutory working hours prescribed by the law, the employer is expected to enter into a written agreement which details the provisions and the need for overtime work. Overtime rates are as follows:
For every excess hour:
On ordinary days – 1.25x the basic hourly rate
On weekly days off – 1.50x the basic hourly rate
On public holidays – 2x the basic hourly rate
Overtime work should NOT go beyond 2 hours per day, and a total of 90 days in a year. The employee also holds the right to refuse overtime work.
Annual Leave with Pay (Section 3 -Article 70)
Employees in Kuwait are entitled to a 30-day annual leave with pay. However, this can only be availed until he/she has rendered at least 9 months of continuous service under one employer. Also, sick leaves and official holidays are not included in the annual leave. The worker shall be entitled to a leave for a fraction of the year in proportion to the time he spent at work, even during his/her first year of employment.
Paid Sick Leave (Article 69)
Provided that an employee can present a medical report from a company-accredited doctor, he/she can avail a sick leave with pay, defined as follows:
- The first six (6) days – at full pay
- The next six (6) days – at three-fourths pay
- The next six (6) days – at half pay
- The next six (6) days – at one-fourth pay
- And the next six (6) days – without pay
Public Holidays (Article 68)
The list of official holidays with pay in Kuwait is as follows:
- Hegeira New Year: 1 day
- Isra’ and Mi’raj day: 1 day
- Eid Al-Fitr: 3 days
- Waqfat Arafat: 1 day
- Eid Al-Adha: 3 days
- Prophet’s Birthday (Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawi): 1 day
- National Day: 1 day\
- Gregorian New Year: 1 day
If an employee agrees to work on any of these public holidays, he/she is entitled to receive double pay and an additional day-off.
Much of what is being observed in terms of employment in most countries today follow international labour practices and standard laws, however, we must also understand that work, as influenced by a country’s unique culture can be quite different from what we’ve been accustomed to. As employees, we need to know and exercise our rights, and integrate it in our lifestyle as we adapt to a unique work culture, if we are working in a foreign country such as Kuwait.