62.2 percent of employers unaware of domestic workers' law

KUWAIT: Employers and domestic workers are not sufficiently aware and familiar with the provisions of the Domestic Employment Act No. 68 of 2015, according to a study released by the Kuwait Society for Human Rights (KSHR) yesterday.

The law did not reach the minimum needed level of awareness in its enforcement and application fields 62.2 percent of the employers who were included in the survey are not aware that the domestic workers' law exist in spite of the fact that more than three years have passed since the law was issued. On the other hand, 71.59 percent of the domestic workers are not aware of it, says the study released yesterday and titled 'Domestic Workers Rights Between Legislation and Enforcement through the Law 68 for the Year 2015.'

Moreover, 91.9 percent of the employers who were included in the survey admitted that they hold the workers' passport with them even when they request to have a law that regulate the work relationship between them and the workers on one hand, and between them and the recruitment offices on the other. Holding a worker's passport is considered as a violation of the law.

The study also revealed that 86.95 percent of recruitment office owners see that the law failed to provide a positive connection between recruitment offices and the domestic workers' department. Meanwhile, 78.25 percent of them think that the new terms and conditions to issue or renew a work permit so as to practice their recruitment business are 'unjust' and 'complicated.'

The study also made a number of recommendations including the call to abolish or reformulate the sponsorship law - also known as the 'Kafala system' - that gives more powers to the employers and creates unequal positions for both parties in the working contract.

Furthermore, the study urged the government to hire professional bilingual detectives to handle domestic workers' cases, hire translators for the main languages spoken by domestic workers, and obligate recruitment offices to hold workshops and seminars regarding the law for employers working in the offices.

In addition, the study called for providing legal proceedings to for domestic workers in case of a fake absconding complaints, and have their cases seen by courts in Kuwait to have a final fair judgment, arguing that absconding complaints in the current legal system have 'major shortfalls.' The study is part of a major project called 'Support,' and it was prepared by the Kuwait Society for Human Rights in cooperation with the Swiss agency for development and cooperation (SDC).