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National Assembly passes amendments to Labour Law

The National Assembly in Kuwait yesterday passed amendments to the labour law in private sector, increasing penalties against employers suspected of trading in visas, and those not paying salaries on time.

The amendments indicate increased jail terms and fines against employers who recruit expat labourers and fail to offer them the jobs.

The amendments also introduced modifications to penalties in Articles 138, 140, 142, 146. Under Article 138, employers are jailed up for three years and fined between KD1000 to KD5000 for recruiting foreigners from abroad or locally, but do not provide them with jobs. The amendment also raises fine between KD2000 to KD10,000 per worker without increasing jail term. This fine is also applicable to employers who employ expat workers not on their residency.

Majority of employers exploit sponsorship scheme and offer residence permits to foreign labourers who do not actually work for them, against fees exceeding KD1000 a year. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour has been trying to crackdown on such visa traders. The Assembly also agreed to amend article 140 dealing with violations against ministry inspectors who ensure that the private sector businesses adhere to the law. A fine on such violations has been amended, setting minimum fine of KD500 to KD1000.

A new paragraph was added to Article 146, wherein court is granted power to fine employers delaying payment of salaries. As per new law, the court will fine such employers with one percent of the value of unpaid salaries every month.

Another amendment requires that an employer in the private sector, who hires no less than five workers, should pay their wages only through bank accounts. However, some private sector businesses may be exempted from this rule, as they get special exemption from the government, particularly the Cabinet.

Another amendment states that if the private sector workers leave their work with the current employer, and take up a job with another employer, the latter will be punished for hiring a runaway worker.

Another amendment involves jail term of one to six months with fine of KD100 to KD2000 for any private sector business, ignoring official orders of closure and suspension of activity.

Having endorsed these amendments, the National Assembly turned over the new law with added amendments to the government for its perusal.

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