Kuwait – Labor Law

Kuwait Law for Expatriate

If You are employed in Kuwait, you should aware of the Kuwait Labor Law.

Section 1

Private Sector Labor Law

Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSA&L) enforces the private sector’s labor regulations. The law applies to all private sectors except for the following: domestic servants, workers on temporary contractors and workers working in less than six months. The private sector labor law also does not apply to employees whose employer’s head office is located outside Kuwait unless the company has a Kuwait branch office in which case Kuwait law applies. If the head office is located outside Kuwait and does not have a branch in Kuwait, the private sector law of the country where the head office is located will govern the immigrants working in Kuwait.

Contract of Employment

The employment contract
contains the employee’s terms of service. A fixed time or indefinite terms of service may be given by the employer to its employees. Terms of service that does not exceed five years is considered a fixed time.

Private Sector Kuwait Labor Law indicates the minimum limit which terms of service may not fall. If a part of an employee’s contract gives him less benefit than his right under the law, he is at liberty to the minimum indicated by the law in the particular term.

Any employment contract may be verbal or in writing. In both cases, a contract must give you an idea about the description of the job, remuneration payable, date of appointment and the service length ( if fixed).

In case of dispute involving a verbal contract, either side can use circumstantial evidence to prove the agreed verbal agreement. Arabic is the language used for written contracts. A contract translated into another language may be attached but when resolving disputes, the Arabic version will be considered in a court of law.

An employee can be hired under probation status for a maximum of 100 days. This can only be applied by the same employer once for each of their workers. Contracts that are still under the probation days can be terminated without prior notice. An accumulated compensation will be given to the employee.


No minimum wage is stated in the private sector labor law. A monthly salary should be paid for hired employees. Salaries can be given every two weeks for piece-workers and workers who are under the hourly and weekly wages. If a subcontractor failed to pay their workers salaries, each worker may demand payment from their employer’s superior contract. This is true for cases when the employer’s superior did not pay for the work done by the subcontracted employees. Payment for employees’ salaries and termination benefits is given priority before an employer’s other creditors when an employer declares bankruptcy.

Section 2


Employer cannot compel their employees to purchase products they manufacture or produce. If a worker is indebted to his employer, a deduction to his salary can be made to pay off this debt but the deduction must not exceed 10% of his salary and interest may not be charged to the worker. When a third party debt is attached to an employer’s salary, only 25% of his salary may be deducted.

Working Hours

Eight hours a day and 48 hours per week is the required working hours for an adult worker. An employee must be permitted to have a one hour rest or break every after five consecutive hours of work. This one hour rest or break is not included in the computation of working hours. MSA&L can modify – either increase or decrease – these standard working hours in case to case basis. Employees working in a hotel are one example of those who have either less or more than the required working hour.


An employee has the liberty to enjoy one whole day off per week. This day off is without pay and is traditionally scheduled during Fridays. But this is not a legal requirement in Kuwait.

There are eight holidays a year where an employee is entitled to enjoy with full payment. These holidays are as follows:

– One day on Hijri New Year’s Day

– One day on Ascension Day

– Two days for Eid Al-fitr

– Two days for Eid Al-adha

– One day for the prophet Mohammed Birthday (PBUH)

– One day for National Day

There is another holiday which is the Liberation Day but for private sector it is not yet a statutory holiday.

Annual Leave

Employees are entitled to take advantage 14 whole days leave every year for completing one whole year of service, and 21 days of leave every year after more than five continuous years of service. These annual leave does not include sick leave and official holidays. The employer is given the power to schedule the date of the employer’s leave.

The employee’s holiday pay must be given before he goes on leave. In calculating the amount due, the employee’s last salary payable before the holidays must be used. In case of employee’s termination of service, he is entitled to a cash payment in lieu of accumulated leave. This is irrespective of the number of years of leave due. Payment for the accumulated leave must be computed on the basis of the last salary payable on termination date.

Section 3

Sick Leave

An employee is entitled to a sick leave provided they have a satisfactory medical report for:

– The first six days of illness on full pay

– The next six days on three-quarters pay

– The next six days on half pay

– The next six days on quarter pay

– The next six days without pay

This entitlement is the total entitlement in one year and not per period of sickness.


An employer may require his employees to render work overtime provided that it is needed and it has a written agreement or order. Below is the list of the overtime rates of pay:

– 1.25 times the basic hourly rate for excess hours worked on regular working days

– 1.50 times the basic hourly rate for all hours worked on the weekly day off

– Twice the basic hourly rate for all hours worked on public holidays

Overtime is only limited to 2 hours a day, 6 hours per week and 180 hours a year and should not exceed 90 days in a year. Every employee has the right to refuse to render overtime work.

Section 4

Termination Benefits

A lump sum payment also known as termination compensation is given to employees when the employment is terminated.

Calculation of Termination Indemnity

For those who work within 5 years, for each year completed by workers they are entitled to a termination indemnity equivalent to 15 days compensation, and a 30 days compensation for each year completed for workers that worked for more than 5 years, but it is limited to one and a half year’s remigration.

For employees who are paid based on piece-rate, hourly, daily or weekly basis, a termination indemnity of 10 days compensation for each completed years of service for the first 5 years and 15 days salary payment for each complete year more than 5 years. This is limited to one year’s salary in which both cases of part years, pro-rated amount is calculated

Restrictions for Termination Indemnity

An employee who was not able to complete his five years of service is not entitled to any indemnity once he decides to resign. Any employee who resigns after working for five years or more in the company is given 50% indemnity. For employees who have reached their retirement age, which were disabled at work or died are given full indemnity. A full indemnity is also given to women employees who married while she is an employee and women employees who renders resignation within 6 months of marriage.

Disciplinary Notices & penalties

All related regulations for employees should be issued in a form of circulars or bulletins. These regulations must also be written in Arabic. Employees who have committed offense may be penalized if the regulation specifies that the offensive act is punishable. All penalties should be progressive but are limited as follows:

– Each act of misbehavior is equivalent to one punishment

– If the act of misbehavior is committed after working hours, outside the workplace and is not related to work, no penalty will be imposed.

– If the penalty is salary deduction, it should not exceed 5 days per month. If the penalty exceeds the total amount of the employee’s 5 days salary then another 5 days deduction will be imposed on his next salary.

– If the penalty is suspension from duty, it should not exceed 10 days per month

– If the act of misbehavior was proven after 15 days, a penalty cannot be imposed


Employment contract will automatically expire at the end of the fixed period stated in the contract. If the employer renews the contract and the employee is willing to work for another period then same conditions will be applied.

If the employment does not state any conditions regarding termination of contract before the end of the fixed period, either party can terminate the contract. The party that terminates the contract must compensate the other. If the employer terminates the contract, the employee will receive compensation limited to his wage earned from the termination day until the end of the contract. If the employee resigns from his work before the end of his contract, employer’s compensation is limited to his actual loss.

If an employee has an employment contract with unlimited period, termination can be made by informing the other party in writing. The notification should be given 15 days before the termination. In lieu of notice, either party may pay the other an amount equivalent to 15 to 7 day salary.

If the employee commits any of the following:

– Doing any wrongful act that results to a serious damages or loss to the employer

– Continuously disobeys his employer’s instructions

– Disobeys safety instructions at work given by the employer on each location

– Has been absent of more than 7 consecutive days without any reason

– Has been convicted of a crime affecting honor, honesty and morality

– Commits an act against public ethics in the workplace

– Assaults a fellow employee, employer or his agent at work or an account of work

– Failure to perform his obligations under the terms of his contract or the labor law

– Commits fraudulent activities to obtain work

– Reveals secrets relating to his employment

An employer has the right to terminate an employee without prior notice and without paying the employee’s indemnity and compensation.

If an employer commits any of the following:

– Fails to abide by the provisions stated on the employee’s contract or the labor law

– Assaults his employee

– Continuously endangers his employee’s health

An employee has the right to end his contract before it expires and without prior notice, collect his indemnity and no payment for the compensation will be applied.

If an employee dies, fails to perform his work or used all his sick leave, his contract will automatically be terminated. Indemnity will be paid for all these cases.

An employee’s contract is also automatically terminated if his firm or company:

– Goes into liquidation

– Merges with another firm or company

– Experienced lockout

– Is sold or inherited

The new owner has the right to indemnity while the employees may continue to serve the new owner while reserving his rights to indemnity for his previous service.

Section 5

Health & Safety

Employees should be protected from physical hazards and occupational diseases at work. For this reason, employers are obliged to take necessary precautions to protect their employee’s welfare.

Employers are also required to do the following:

– ensure the work area is clean and well ventilated, sufficiently lit and in good sanitary condition

– supply first aids kits in visible areas and within reach of the employees. These kits should contain medicines, antiseptics and bandages.

MSA&L issued resolutions that contain all the detailed standards for these matters. MSA&L consulted the Ministry of the Public Health for these resolutions.

An appropriate transport should be provided by the employer to his employees working in areas not reached by public transport. An appropriate accommodation with drinkable water and means to obtain supplies should also be provided by the employer if his employees are working in areas away from populated areas.


If injuries are acquired by an employee during his working hours or his injuries are related to his work, the employer should report the incident to the local police stations and to MSA&L. The employee that incurred injuries has the right to treatment in any government hospitals or private clinic. This decision is based on what the employer thinks is suitable and the expenses will also be shouldered by the employer. An employee must secure a doctor’s report that states the period of treatment required, any disability caused by the accident, and an employee’s fitness to continue working after the treatment.

A full payment for the first six months will be provided to the injured employee during his treatment. Half payment will provided after six months until the employee dies, recovers or is proven to be permanently disabled.


An employee is entitled to a compensation for injuries related to work. The employee does not have to prove that the employee was at fault as long as the employee is not guilty of gross malpractice or injured himself intentionally.

An employee’s family will have a right to compensation if the employee’s injuries have caused him more than 25% disability or dies. Even if the employee is guilty of gross malpractice, the family will still continue to receive the compensation.

The amount of the compensation is based on the severity of the injury. When the injury results to dead, the compensation is equivalent to the total amount of 1500 days salary or more. The current legal blood money is KD 10,000. For employees with permanent disability, a compensation equivalent to the total amount of 2000 days salary or more will be given. One and one-third times the legal blood money will also be provided.

A percentage of what would be due for a total permanent disability is the calculated compensation for partial permanent disability.

Section 6

Individual Labor Disputes

In cases of individual labor disputes, the private sector labor law has laid down specific procedures to be followed for an individual to pursue a claim against their employers.

Any individual labor dispute should be submitted to MSA&L before the start of a law suit. The two parties will be called by the Ministry to have an amicable settlement. The Ministry will give both parties two weeks to reach a settlement. If no settlement is reached, the dispute will be referred to the Labor Court. The forwarded dispute will include the summary to the matter, evidences presented by both parties together with the Ministry’s own comments. The court will schedule a fix date for the hearing within three days and both parties will be notified.

The case will be heard in a summary manner. After the employment was terminated, a time limit of one year is given for filing cases. There is an exemption from the usual court fees for labour cases but if the employee loses then the court may order him to pay anominal amount on account of costs.

Disputes and Civil Rights

Immigrants who experience difficulty in acquiring their work-related legal rights or other disputes can consult the Labor Departments at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. MSA&L has five labor departments. One of these departments handles labor disputes. Employees who wanted to file dispute should be directed to this department. The employee should provide the necessary documents that support the claim. The department then offer advice with regards to the case and follow the procedures mentioned on the previous pages.

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