Kuwait is an oil-rich country located in western Asia. The majority of the population (4.21 million people as of 2019) in Kuwait is expatriates. The official language is standard Arabic, however Kuwaiti Arabic is spoken widely throughout the country.
Employment contracts must be in writing and in Arabic. Contracts can be for a fixed-term or for an indefinite-term. A fixed-term contract must not be for less than one year or exceed five years and can only be extended by the agreement of both parties. However, if the work continues without a written extension, then the contract will automatically become an indefinite-term contract.
The employee will also retain all their accrued dues from the previous expired contract.
Employment contracts should include:
A female employee is entitled to receive the same salary as that of a male employee for the same job. Three copies should be made of the contract, one for the employee, the second for the employer, and the third should be sent to the competent authority at the Ministry. In the case of a foreigner, a translation based on the Arabic contract must be attached to the employee’s copy.
The standard work period is capped at eight hours per day and 48 hours per week. However, work hours are decreased to 36 hours per week during the fasting month of Ramadan. Employees receive a break of one hour per day, if they work more than five continuous hours, and one day off per week (usually Friday). Some employers also give workers Saturday off as well.
Employees who work on their weekly day off are entitled to 150% of their regular salary and another day off of work. Employees who work on a Public Holiday receive 200% of their regular salary. Overtime requires a written order from the employer and is limited to two hours per day, three days per week. Overtime cannot exceed a total of 180 hours or 90 days per year. Overtime pay is 125% of the basic rate during workdays. Employers are prohibited from having female employees work evening hours between 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. or work in services that primarily cater to male clients. The standard workweek is capped at 45 hours or eight hours per day.
Employees receive up to 45 days of paid sick leave, which requires a medical certificate. The employee receives full payment for the first 15 days, then 75% pay for the following 10 days, 50% pay for the next 10 days, and 25% pay for the final 10 days. They also receive 30 days per year of unpaid sick leave.
Female employees receive 70 days of paid maternity leave and up to four months of unpaid maternity leave. They must receive a break of two hours to breastfeed their children during working hours. Employers with more than 50 female or male employees are required to arrange a day care center. Employers cannot dismiss a female employee on maternity or sick leave if the employee provided a medical certificate to confirm the condition.There is no statutory paternity leave.
Employers are not required to provide bonuses to their employees, although some employers choose to pay them annually.
In addition to public holidays, employees receive 30 days of paid annual leave after nine months of service. Once accrued, annual leave should be taken within one year. If the employee worked for less than 12 months, then the leave will be in proportion to the period spent at work.Annual leave payment must be paid in advance before the leave begins. The annual leave can be accumulated to a maximum of two years. However, leave may exceed this maximum provided that both parties agree on such an extension in the contract. The employer is required to determine the annual leave with the employee within the first 14 days of every year.Employees receive one day annual leave for every month of service.
Kuwait observes the following holidays:
Kuwaitis receive free medical care at government facilities but may need to pay for special services. Expatriates are required to pay a yearly fee to use public healthcare. Kuwait also requires its employees to have healthcare insurance to secure a residence permit, and the employer pays the healthcare premium. They also need to register/enroll at the nearest hospital or clinic by submitting their civil ID cards to obtain a medical card.
Both the employer and employee may terminate an employment contract after giving a termination notice. The notice period is three months for monthly salaried employees, and one month for all other types of employees. The employer who terminates the employee without having the employee complete the notice period is required to pay the total amount of salaries covering the notice period. Any party that does not give the required notice will be obliged to pay the other party the salary amounts equivalent to the notice period.
Termination of employment during probation period requires no notice. If the employer terminates an employee during the probation period, then the employer is obligated to pay the employee an end of service bonus. In some instances, the employer may terminate an employee without notice and severance. Such cases include if the employee commits a fault that results in loss to the employer, if the employee used fraud to gain employment, divulging trade secrets, conviction of a crime, etc.
The employee is also entitled to terminate employment without notice if the employer breaches any of the provisions of the contract, is assaulted by the employer, if their health and safety is threatened, or if the employer defrauded the employee in the contract. Employees who worked for less than one year are supposed to receive payment in proportion to the months of service. However, employees who worked over one year are entitled to full severance pay when the contract expires. The end of service payment ranges from a 10 day wage to one month’s wages depending on length of service. In addition, payment for any untaken annual and sick day leaves, and all amounts paid into social security till the end of employment.
We understand that local laws and regulations change and sourcing an accurate reference guide is not easy. Our data is researched and verified by our team of local international Employment Attorneys, HR and Benefit Professionals and Tax Accountants through our Atlas team and consultants, to ensure information up-to-date and accurate.
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