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MP proposes sweeping cuts to worker benefits – Call to slash leave, indemnity, holidays in private sector
June 17, 2014, 11:07 pm
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In a surprising and perhaps unprecedented move, MP Nasser Al-Sane yesterday proposed key amendments to the labor law of 2010, calling for massive cuts to benefits enjoyed by workers that include cuts in the annual leave, end of service indemnity, public holidays and other gains. The previous National Assembly spent years debating drafts after drafts of the labour law in the private sector until it was passed in 2010, which was welcomed as employee-friendly for the important benefits the law included.
 
Merchants and employers had strongly opposed that law, but a large number of MPs backed the amendments and pressed the government to accept them. In his proposal, Sane calls for deleting two articles of the 150-article law and for amending 11 other articles, all dealing with employee benefits, whether they are expatriates or Kuwaitis.
 
The lawmaker calls for deleting articles 22 and 97. The first prohibits most women from working between 10 at night and 7 in the morning. Exceptions include nurses and some other professions. Article 97 deals with compensation that a worker or his heirs can seek for health conditions they suffer from working in hazardous and harmful industries. The proposal also calls to amend article 25 to exempt employers from the requirement to establish a nursery if they employ 50 women and more or a total of 200 workers.
 
Sane also proposes to amend article 44 to cut the dismissal notice period from three months under the current law to just one month for permanent employees and from one month to just two weeks for workers hired on daily basis. Sane also calls for amending the key article 53 which deals with end of service indemnity and the way to calculate it.
 
Under the current law, employees who resign get no indemnity if their service is less than three years, half the indemnity for 3-5 years, two-thirds indemnity for 5-10 years of service and full indemnity for service exceeding 10 years. The amendment calls for giving only half the indemnity until 10 years of service and two-thirds indemnity for above 10 years.
 
Sane calls to amend article 68 to cut public holidays from 13 days under the current law to just eight days. He wants to cancel holidays for the Feb 26 Liberation Day and the New Year in addition to reducing one day to two for Eid Al-Fitr and two days from four for Eid Al-Adha. He also proposes to amend article 69 to cut sick leave. Under the current law, employees are allowed to take sick leave as follows: 15 days with full pay, 10 days with half pay, another 10 days for a quarter of their pay and finally, 30 days of unpaid leave before the employer can dismiss the employee after paying full indemnity. The proposal calls to cut the 15 days to 10 and the 30 days of unpaid leave to just 10, leaving others unchanged.
 
He also calls to amend article 70 to cut annual leave. Under the current law, annual leave is 30 days for all employees regardless of the service duration. The amendments call to give 15 days a year for the first four years of service, 21 days a year for the next three years and 30 days a year thereafter. The lawmaker also calls to cut the hajj leave for Muslims by amending article 76 which states that an employee can enjoy a 21-day paid leave to perform the hajj after two years of service, while the amendment calls for just 15 days and after three years of service.
 
Sane also calls to cut the so-called mourning leave for widows. Currently, Muslim women whose husbands die are entitled to a special mourning leave of four months and 10 days and the amendment calls to cut it to just 21 days and gives the woman the right to ask for additional four months of unpaid leave conditional to the employer’s approval. Non-Muslim women have 21 days of mourning now and the amendment calls to cut it to just seven days.
 
The proposals must be first approved by the legal and legislative committee and then by the health and labor panel before it comes up for voting in the National Assembly.
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