Kuwait has adopted the country’s first law regulating the labour rights of domestic workers; a major breakthrough which is hoped to encourage other Gulf states to follow suit.
“Kuwait’s parliament has taken a major step forward by providing domestic workers with enforceable labor rights for the first time. Now those rights need to be made a reality in Kuwait, and other Gulf states should follow the lead,” Middle East women’s rights researcher Rothna Begum said in a statement commending the move.
The oil-rich emirate has an estimated 660,000 domestic workers, mostly women from Africa and Asia, making up nearly a third of the country’s workforce.
Before the new law, passed on June 24, however, they were excluded from labor laws protecting worker’s rights.
Under the new legislation, they are granted a weekly day off, 30 days of annual paid leave, a maximum 12-hour working day and an end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of their contract.
Human Rights Watch had detailed systematic abuse and rights violations, including on-payment of wages, long working hours without any rest days, and pysical and even sexual assault in a 2010 report that had received widespread attention.