Article Kuwait: Manpower Authority Issues Decree to Regulate Work Permits

(Mar. 19, 2021) On January 11, 2021, the director general of the Kuwaiti Public Authority for Manpower issued Decree No. 27 of 2021 on Rules and Procedures for GrantingWork Permits. The purpose of the decree, which consists of 56 provisions, is to regulate the registration, renewal, and cancelation of work permits in Kuwait. The decree also allows employees to apply for work permits through the Manpower Authority’s online portal.

Context of the Decree

According to Nasser Al-Hamidi, head of the Legal Department at the Manpower Authority, the new decree is a tool designed to provide both workers and employers in Kuwait with details on the electronic process of registering work permits in the country and the electronic services available to them. It additionally defines the conditions for granting work permits in Kuwait, including permits to male and female minors, and designates specific work places for female workers only, such as women’s health clubs. Al-Hamidi also stated that the Manpower Authority’s website provides online services to facilitate the registration process of work permits for both employers and workers.

Content of the Decree

Business Licenses

The decree discusses the procedures and requirements for registering business licenses in the Manpower Authority. It also stipulates that the death of the owner of an establishment does not mean the closure of the business establishment. (Art. 3.)

The decree designates the Manpower Authority as the government agency responsible for reviewing applications to cancel business licenses and also provides the conditions for canceling a business license. (Art. 5.)

Government Labor Contracts 

The Manpower Authority is in charge of all labor affairs concerning workers who are employed by a government contract and workers in the oil sector. The Manpower Authority regulates procedures related to issuing, renewing, and canceling government labor contracts of up to one year in length. (Arts. 7–9.)

Regulations and Restrictions on Certain Work Permits

The decree prohibits employers from hiring Kuwaiti nationals, giving them salaries, and registering them in the Manpower Authority solely for the purpose of meeting the required national employment percentages established under the provisions of Law No. 19 of 2000 regarding Support and Encouragement of National Workers to Work in Nongovernmental Agencies without actually engaging them in employment. (Art. 14.)

The decree allows female and male minors between 15 and 18 years of age to work upon receiving permission from the Manpower Authority at the request of an employer. (Art. 17.) However, it prohibits all persons under 18 years of age from participating in camel races. (Art. 21.)

In accordance with Decree No. 27 of 2021, women may work at night in hotels; pharmacies; laboratories; health care; child care; airlines; theaters, cinemas, television and radio; and airports, ports, and oil sector facilities. (Art. 22.) Moreover, women are allowed to work until midnight in restaurants, banks, public benefit societies, cooperatives, educational institutions, tourist offices and airline agencies, and commercial markets. (Art. 23.)

The decree bans men from working in places that provide services only for women, including lingerie shops, women’s beauty salons, and women’s health clubs. The Manpower Authority will not issue work permits for men to work in such business establishments. (Art. 27.)

Benefits Granted to Female Workers

According to the decree, employers must give women with newborn babies two hours daily to nurse them. The women’s right to time off to nurse her child expires after two years. (Art. 28.) The decree also grants Muslim women whose husbands die four months and 10 days’ leave for ‘Idda, the waiting period before the wife is allowed to marry again. The ‘Idda leave begins from the day the husband dies. (Art. 29.)

Work Permit Validity Period and Withholding Foreign Workers’ Passports

The decree provides that work permits that are subject to renewal remain valid for a maximum of three years. (Art. 32.) Moreover, the decree bans employers in the private sector and oil sector from withholding the passports of foreign workers. (Art. 38.)

Suspension of Business Activities and Cancelation of Work Permits

Kuwaiti employers must notify the Manpower Authority if their business establishment has fully or partially suspended its activities. (Art. 36.)

A work permit must be canceled due to the following: (a) the forfeiture of the residency permit as a result of the holder’s staying outside Kuwait (art. 39); (b) the death of the worker (art. 41); (c) the unexcused absence of the worker (art. 42); (d) a final court decision issued against the worker (art. 43); (e) the worker does not have a residency permit to reside and work in Kuwait (art. 44).

Worker’s Unexcused Absence

The employer of a worker who is absent without an excuse must inform the Manpower Authority after seven days have passed from the date of the worker’s absence. (Art. 48.) The employer must display a copy of the notice that was submitted to the Manpower Authority in a visible place at the workplace in order for the worker to be aware of the notice. (Art. 49.) The employer who submits a notice of the worker’s unexcused absence to the Manpower Authority is prohibited from allowing the worker to resume his/her work until an investigation of the incident is concluded. (Art. 50.)

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