An aerial view of Kuwait City on January 22, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Cairo: Kuwait has revamped its labour permit system, easing restrictions on recruiting workers from abroad in a step aimed to overcome shortages at home and lower hire costs.

The board of the Kuwaiti Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) unanimously agreed to amend the mechanism of issuing work permits to address a shortage of labourers and limit the overall cost and rising wages of manpower in the country, Kuwaiti media reported.

By virtue of the new rules that will go into effect on June 1, employers will be allowed to recruit workers from abroad without being obligated to first transfer the existing manpower inside Kuwait in a move also aimed to develop the business environment in the country.

Previously, employers were obligated to meet their labour needs through worker transfers inside the country and recruit certain portions from abroad, a system blamed for sending wages of manpower and consequently consumer prices higher.

In an attempt to maintain labour stability at home, the approved changes incorporate a new fee arrangement for issuing work permits. Accordingly, an initial work permit is issued for KD150. A fee of KD300 is levied for transferring a worker from one company to another within the first three years of employment. The transfer hinges on the employer’s consent.

The restriction aims to curb the illegal visa trade and stabilise the labour market environment as well as reduce the workforce costs.

Late last year, Kuwait allowed private sector workers in the country to take on a second job with the approval of their original employer.

The ministerial decree imposed a maximum of four hours per day for the second partial job, requiring an additional permit from PAM. However, the contracting sector, facing a labour shortage, is exempt from this time limit.

Foreigners make up around 3.2 million of Kuwait’s overall population of 4.8 million.