Kuwait announced that it will resume the recruitment of domestic workers from abroad starting from 17 January, after a hiatus of more than 10 months due to Covid-19 pandemic. This follows Kuwait’s decision last month to allow stranded domestic workers with existing work permits to return to Kuwait.
As per regulations, domestic workers arriving in Kuwait must undergo a mandatory two-week quarantine in a special facility, which reportedly cost up to 270 Kuwaiti Dinars (890 USD).
However, several recruitment agencies in Kuwait say they have been left in the dark regarding the new recruitment procedures, given the travel restrictions that are still in place in several sending countries and the lack of clarity as to who bears the cost for Covid-19 tests and tickets in case workers are returned. As of December 2020, there were 464 registered recruitment agencies in Kuwait.
The decision to halt the return of domestic workers has hit the domestic work sector in Kuwait hard and also exacerbated the abuse and trafficking of domestic workers, with many of them having had their contracts forcibly renewed by employers after completing their contracts.
According to the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM), in December 2020, a total of 6782 complaints in the domestic work sector were registered, with the authority recovering KD 88,280 (USD 291,217) on behalf of employers (from recruitment agencies) and only KD 4,453 (USD 14,689) on behalf of domestic workers.