Being terminated isn’t always easy to deal with. On top of that, imagine being terminated because you are a woman, you don’t speak the language, you don’t have family around you, you are in a foreign country and they won’t give you your rights. I know many of you have concerns about being terminated in Kuwait, and I know that many people know that employers don’t always follow the law. It is a very tough situation to be in, so I hope the questions and answers mentioned here are of help.
Question: I was terminated for an illegal reason. My termination letter says that I was being terminated because I got married, which makes no sense. Are there laws in Kuwait that protect women from such actions? What are our rights as women? I feel like it is my right to get married, there was no mention of this in the contract. What can I do?
Fajer: Being terminated for getting married is illegal and the law protects you. Kuwait labor law has many articles that protect woman in the working field. I have listed them below:
* Maternity Leave
Maternity leave in Kuwait is for 70 days and is PAID.
The leave days are NOT included in the employee’s annual leave or other leaves!
The woman has to give birth within this period.
* Leave after delivery
Female employees can request non-paid leave of up to four months after the 70-day maternity leave. The request has to be from the employee.
The employer may NOT terminate the employee while on maternity leave or if the employee is sick or had complications due to the delivery and needs extra medical leave.
The employee is allowed a two-hour break in order to breastfeed her newborn (it is not clear what the provisions are though).
The employer is OBLIGED to have a nursery at work – for organizations with more than 50 female employees or more than 200 employees in general.
The nursery is for children under four years of age.
Unfortunately, there a lot of employers in Kuwait and around the world that do not want to hire married or pregnant women, because pregnant women can be costly to them. Fortunately, there a lot of people speaking out about this and the laws have changed in the past years giving more rights to women so they can start a family and also have a career.
I would suggest that you file a complaint at the Shuoon (Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs) for illegal termination, especially since you have a termination letter in writing that says you are being terminated for getting married. If I was your lawyer, I would negotiate compensation for you. If you go to court, the judge will give you compensation for wrongful termination.
Question: I am resigning because I am not being treated well at work. This is because I am working overtime, am not getting days off and so on. Do you think it is the right step?
Fajer: No. I see people making this mistake all the time. Instead of submitting the resignation to your employer, I would much rather you submit your resignation at the Shuoon stating all the violations that your employer has done towards you. I usually give this advice to my clients because when you resign, you are legally relinquishing your rights, and if your reason for resignation is not documented clearly, then you lose some of your rights, that depending on your years of employment, can affect your termination indemnity.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed