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Feed time for baby

My wife is giving birth in Kuwait in July. According to the country’s laws, she is permitted to have 2 hours off from work per day to care for our child. The company that she works for (a very large company in Kuwait as well as other Middle Eastern countries) is refusing her this time, and only allowing for 6 weeks off. What can we do about this, who can we talk to?

Name withheld
Answer
: For this purpose your wife’s employers need to have a close look at Articles 24 and 25 of the Kuwait Labor Law enacted on Feb 20, 2010.

Article 24 says “A pregnant working woman shall be entitled to a paid maternity leave of 70 days, not included in her other leaves, provided she gives birth within this period. “After the end of the maternity leave, the employer may give the working woman, at her request, an unpaid leave for a period not exceeding four months to care of the period. “The employer may not terminate the services of a working woman while she is on such leave or during her absence from work because of a sickness resulting from the pregnancy”.

Article 25 states as follows: “The working woman shall be allowed a two-hour break during her working hours in order to feed her baby according to such conditions as shall be set forth in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s decision. The employer shall establish a nursery for children below the age of 4 at the place of work in the event where the number of female workers exceeds 50 or the total number of workers exceeds 200”.

So, if the company looks at the above two articles two things will be very clear.

1. The company has to give 70 days paid maternity leave. There is no way out of this issue. Your wife can also request a further 4 months unpaid leave — without any threat to her job-to look after the baby.

2. The company has to give your wife 2 hours daily to feed the baby.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has so far not defined this period but it can’t be less than that defined by Islamic scholars who mostly believe that it should be at least six months.

Although some scholars are of the opinion that it should be at least two years, most of Kuwait’s legal experts agree it should be at least six months.

So, if your company has any doubt — although there is no room for it — it can write to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor or call the legal experts at the ministry who can advise them on the issue ... although the answer will be the same. Your wife should talk to her superiors in the company and also the HR department.

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