Kuwait towers Image Credit: Agency

Manama: More than half of Kuwait’s domestic helpers have been denied their end of service indemnities, a local human rights group has said.

In a study conducted over several months, the Kuwait Society for Human Rights said that 56.6 per cent of the sponsors failed to comply with the labour laws and hand over indemnities to the workers in their households.

According to the society, domestic helpers account for 27 per cent of the total number of foreigners working in the northern Arabian Gulf country.

Around 90 per cent of all Kuwaiti homes have foreign domestic helpers whose total number is believed to be around 620,000, coming from several countries, mainly Asia and Africa.

The study, “The Rights of Domestic Workers in the State of Kuwait between Theory and Practice through Law 68/2015,” covers the extent to which domestic workers, employers, recruitment agencies and human rights organisations dealing with domestic workers benefit from the law.

The study also addresses the effectiveness, implementation and the impact of the law, contrasting it with the situation before its enactment three years ago.

Under the law, domestic helpers are entitled to the same treatment as workers in the private sector and receive end of service amenities equal to a 15-day pay for every year in the first five years and to a 30-day pay for every year afterwards.

More than 90 per cent of the employers said they fully agreed with offering return tickets to the helpers at the end of their service while eight per cent said they did not support the rule.

A major complaint reported by domestic helpers in the study was the delays in receiving their salaries. However, only nine per cent of the employers admitted the delays while more than 89 per cent said they paid their workers on time.

Another 89 per cent said they did not support the policy of reducing the pay in case the worker broke something or did something wrong. Nine per cents aid they did it at times while two per cent said they deducted cash every time there were mistakes.

The study, published by Kuwaiti daily Al Rai, found that 38.15 per cent of the employers said helpers worked for more than 10 hours while 39.88 per cent did not give their helper more cash for extra chores.

Close to 30 per cent of the employers said they did not support giving a day off to their domestic helpers arguing their services are needed.

Slightly more than 60 per cent of the employers said they were not aware of the law although three years have elapsed since it was enacted and made public.

“The law has not reached the required level of exposure in the relevant sectors, as the level of knowledge of employers, domestic workers, recruiters and civil society is superficial,” the study said.

“It can be attributed to the low educational level of most of the domestic workers and the indifference of employers about the law.”

The competent authorities and relevant stakeholders should launch massive campaigns to boost awareness among all parties about the rights and duties of the domestic helpers, the study recommended.