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Kuwait's Parliament to Vote on a New Labor Law that Grants Migrant Workers More Rights

On December 5, 2009

Kuwait's parliament is expected to vote this week on a new labor law for the private sector. The draft of the law significantly increases the rights of most migrant workers in Kuwait. It included limiting the working hours of workers to 40 per week, prolonging maternity leaves and vacations, and increasing penalties for employers who withhold pay from their migrant workers.

In their report, Human Rights Watch pointed out that the law doesn't cover the 600,000 domestic workers in Kuwait, who make up about 25% of the foreign labor force in Kuwait.

According to the Kuwait Times, the law stops short of abolishing the Sponsorship system in the emirate, which creates a total dependence of the worker on his sponsor. The HRW report, however, says that the draft of the law includes the creation of a government authority that will be the sponsor of migrant workers. In effect, this will abolish the current abusive Sponsorship system. This claim is consistent with previous reports we've mentioned.

Despite the problems a government authority will have in sponsoring migrant workers, due to the prevalent corruption in the public sector, if the law does contain this provision, we hope that it will pass in the Kuwaiti parliament.