Kuwait sets minimum wage, overtime and rest days for maids

This post was originally published on 14 July 2016 and the content may be outdated.

Kuwait has set a minimum wage for its hundreds of thousands of mostly Asian domestic staff, the first country in the Gulf to do so, local media reported on Thursday.

A decree issued by Interior Minister Shaikh Mohammad Khaled Al Sabah set the minimum wage at 60 dinars (AED729) a month and also granted domestic staff a raft of other rights, Al-Anbaa newspaper reported.

First country in the Gulf

Kuwait is the first country in the Gulf to regulate the work conditions of domestic staff and Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have urged others to follow suit.

The decree, which implements landmark legislation adopted by parliament last year, also requires employers to pay overtime for any extra hours worked.

It grants domestic workers the right to a weekly day off, 30 days of annual paid leave, a 12-hour working day with rest, and an end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of contract.

The estimated 600,000 maids in Kuwait are among at least 2.4 million working across the Gulf. They are not covered by ordinary labour legislation.

Human Rights Watch and other groups have documented widespread abuses, including non-payment of wages, long working hours with no rest days, physical and sexual assault, and no clear channels for redress.

In its 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US State Department upgraded Kuwait from tier 3, the worst level, to tier 2 while keeping it on the watch list, citing an improvement in its treatment of migrant workers.

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