Copy of 934216-01-08-1589184068230
Paople queue in front of a shop to refill their gas cylinders in Kuwait City on May 10, 2020, a day after Kuwaiti authorities announced a 20-day total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown will be implemented from May 10 to 30. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Kuwait’s parliament is set to debate changes into the labour law prompted by the coronvirus pandemic, a legal expert said.

“The proposed changes into the labour law include temporary salary cut, special leave and laying workers off,” Professor Anas Altourah, School of Law, Kuwait University, told the Kuwaiti daily Aljarida.

Spelling out the three proposals, Altourah said the proposed change should go as follows: “It is not permissible to reduce the worker’s wage during the period of his work except in unusual circumstances, such as disasters and general crises, in which a decision is issued by the competent minister, provided that the employer is not discharged, except after paying the rate of reduction within one year from the end of the exceptional circumstances or the end of the job contract, whichever is earlier.”


At present, the Labour Law provides that the employee’s remuneration may not be reduced for any reason during his or her period of service. It further stipulates that an employer shall pay the employee’s remuneration during periods when the work of the establishment is totally or partially suspended for any other reason not related to the employee, for as long as they wish to continue to employ the worker.

Concerning the special leave, Altourah said the proposed change grants the employer in unusual circumstances, such as disasters and general crises, in which a decision is issued by the competent minister, the right to determine the special leave, provided that it is as follows:

• 30 days with full pay.

• 30 days with three quarters of the wage.

• 15 days with half pay.

• To the end of the extraordinary circumstances without pay.

Altourah explained the idea of the article is to try to establish a balance in the contractual relationship, and to divide the damages resulting from the crisis between the worker and the employer.

About the layoffs, Al Tourah said the employer may, in unusual circumstances such as disasters and crises, be allowed to lay off workers, provided that they are notified at least one month in advance and are paid their end of service gratuity.

Under Kuwaiti Labour Law, an employer cannot force an employee to take his annual leave. It provides that the employer may grant unpaid leave to the employee upon the employee’s request. As such, the employer may not force the employee to take unpaid leave without the employee’s consent.

As per Kuwait Law, an employee is entitled to 30 days’ annual leave. The employee may accumulate the same, provided that the leave does not exceed two years. The employee will be entitled to take his accumulated leave all at once, upon receipt of the employer’s approval. The annual leave can be accumulated for more than two years with the consent of both parties.

Sick Leave

Employees are entitled to the following annual sick leave:

Fifteen days on full pay, 10 days on 75 per cent pay, 10 days on 50 per cent pay, 10 days on 25 per cent pay and 30 days without pay.