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Saturday , November 23 2019

‘Revoke or amend sponsorship that gives employers power over domestics’

Call to adopt additional measures to improve the compliance with the law

This is the fifth and final part of the report on Rights of Domestic Workers Between Legislative System and Enforcement through Law No. 68 of Year 2015 — Editor

Recommendations In light of the subjects covered in this study, and the survey of the opinions of the parties concerned with law No. (68/2015), from employers (sponsors) to domestic workers, in addition to the recruitment offices’ owners and number of civil society organizations, the following recommendations can be drawn up: • Recommendations for the legislative authorities:

  1. Revoke or amend the sponsorship system that gives employers power over domestic workers and limits their freedom to move from one employer to another. Give the domestic workers the freedom to end employment relations and seek new employment opportunity after the termination of the first employment relation.
  2. Consider ratifying the International Convention on The Protection of The Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and ILO Convention No. (189) of 2011 on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.
  3. Reconsider law No. (68/2015) regarding Domestic Labour, in terms of incorporating dissuasive penalties that prevent employers from confiscating the passports of domestic workers, and punish the offender, as significant violations were observed such as confiscating passports and depriving them from their weekly and annual leave.
  4. Conduct researches, opinion surveys and studies, periodically, in order to identify the reality of domestic labour in Kuwait, since research and survey studies provide decision makers and stakeholders with all updates regarding human rights issues, in particular with regard to domestic labour.
    • Recommendations for the Department of Domestic Labour in the Ministry of Interior and the public authority of manpower:
  5. Ensure the enforcement of law No. 68/2015 through follow-up, the implementation of the provisions thereof, as well as the law’s validity and effectiveness in reducing disputes and complaints, and improve the confidence between the parties concerned with the law. As it has been noted that few of domestic workers refer to the Department of Domestic Labour and prefer to resort to their embassies when they face problems. Therefore, the Department of Domestic Labour should endeavor to rebuild the trust, activate the law and impose dissuasive penalties on whoever violates the law.
  6. Adopt additional measures to improve the compliance with the law by conducting awareness campaigns aiming at changing attitudes and behaviors of employers in order to achieve decent work and clarify the rights and duties of both parties (Domestic worker and employer).
  7. Activate the hotline by directly dealing with phone calls to raise the level of domestic workers’ trust in the Department and its ability to solve their problems and restitute their rights if proven. Develop the hotline to deal with complaints by providing people who speak the different languages of domestic workers.
  8. Enforce the fundamental rights to work stipulated by the ILO Conventions and ratified by the State of Kuwait, in particular those related to defined working hours, the right to get a weekly leave and regular payment of wages, in order to achieve decent work conditions for domestic workers.
  9. Appoint investigators with language skills and provide translators for the main languages of domestic workers (e.g.: Indian – Bengali – Sri Lankan – Amharic – Urdu – Filipino – Telugu – French and English) as a routine procedure.
  10. Consider imposing a monitoring mechanism that works on contacting the employers and domestic workers and conducts periodical interviews to identify the work environment and conditions and the level of compliance with the law.
  11. Establish inspection teams within the Department of Domestic Labour to conduct random field visits to homes in coordination with employers, to identify the work environment and conditions of the domestic worker.
  12. Facilitate access to statistics and publish them on annual basis regarding the number and types of complaints submitted to the Department of Domestic Labour and Courts, as well as ways of settling disputes.
  13. Improve the dissemination of information pertaining to the rights of domestic workers by translating the Law regarding the Domestic Labour into the most common languages of domestic workers, using social media sites to reach all sectors related to the law. Provide detail interpretation of the provisions of law, the mechanisms of complaints and restitution of rights, and distribute law handbooks in the worker’s language at all centers and places frequently visited by workers.
  14. Facilitate the administrative and legal procedures to expedite the process of returning the domestic workers to their countries after the end of their employment contract.
  15. Develop a website for the Department of Domestic Labour in several languages, and which includes the provisions of law 68/2015, its implementing decisions, awareness leaflets and guides elaborating the rights and obligations of domestic workers and employers. Develop as well an electronic application for smart phones in many languages enabling the domestic workers to submit their complaints and suggestions.
  16. Promote cooperation between the Department of Domestic Labour and civil society organizations by organizing training sessions and workshops.
  17. Provide legal assistance and consultancy to workers seeking assistance as a routine procedure.
  18. Require employers and recruitment offices to sign written employment contracts with domestic workers, in a language that the domestic worker understands, and ratified by the Department of Domestic Labour.
  19. Provide a larger number of shelters for domestic workers, in accordance with the international standards, and inform the domestic workers of their locations.
  20. Require the recruitment offices to provide their employees with training sessions on law No. 68/2015, and distribute law handbooks regarding the Domestic Labour to domestic workers and employers, in the language of the worker, to raise awareness regarding the rights and obligations of both parties.
  21. Step up supervisory efforts through inspection mechanisms on recruitment offices, to hold offices who violate the provisions of the law accountable. The study revealed that many offices’ owners violate the law because they are not satisfied with it.

• Recommendations for the Ministry of Justice:

  1. Work on the settlement of domestic labour issues by establishing a fast-track mechanism to resolve the labour issues of domestic workers.
  2. Enable domestic workers to appeal against malicious absence from duty reports through judicial system, where absenteeism in the current legal framework suffers from legal deficiencies, in the absence of regulatory oversight. Employers resort to this act to get back at workers and deprive them of their remunerations, therefore using this as a bargaining chip, where they agree to cancel the absence from duty report filed against the domestic worker in return for a lesser settlement.

• Recommendations for civil society organizations:

  1. Provide employees of civil society organizations with legal training courses that enable them to understand the provisions of law and its implementation mechanisms, so they acquire the experience and knowledge to deal with cases submitted to them and are able to find adequate solutions.
  2. Expand efforts to raise the society’s awareness of domestic workers rights, and educate them on the ethics of dealing with domestic workers, respecting their dignity and the value of their work, by conducting awareness campaigns through media, social media sites, trainings and workshops.
  3. Translate the Domestic Labour Law into all the languages spoken in the countries of domestic workers, and prepare guides that include the rights and obligations, as well as make publications on the rights and obligations available at the airport, in medical centers and recruitment offices.
  4. Work on establishing partnerships with governmental authorities, and opening continuous lines of communications based on common rules, values and visions along with stated objectives, to report on law’s violations, address them through available legal means, and accomplish the principle of complementarity between the two parties, in order to achieve these efforts.
  5. Grant civil society organizations greater space and powers to deal with workers subject to violations of their rights, through the transition from legal awareness to direct advocacy for domestic workers’ issues, and publish all achievements made regarding the protection of these rights and present them to different means of media to deliver direct message to those involved in legal violations that security authorities will be informed of their violations.
  6. Form civil coalitions in order to amend some provisions of the law to be consistent with the rights stipulated therein, in particular those related to the elimination of all violations and deter them with legal provisions that include clear appropriate sanctions.
  7. Train and provide domestic workers with qualifications and skills required to meet the requirements of employers, through training sessions and workshops.

• Recommendations for laboursending countries:

  1. Ensure the training of domestic workers and provide them with qualifications by requiring local recruitment agencies to work on practical and professional training through approved training centers.
  2. Providing awareness and education to domestic workers on the Law regarding Domestic Labour in Kuwait, and their contractual rights in accordance with the standard employment contract, as well as provide them with adequate information regarding the channels of support, legal assistance and contact information of embassy officials in Kuwait.
  3. Print and distribute copies of the law regarding domestic Labour in the worker’s language so the workers can identify their rights and obligations stipulated by the law.

• Recommendations for United Nations Organizations (International Labour Organization – International Organization for Migration – High Commissioner For Human Rights)

  1. Continue to provide the State of Kuwait and labour-sending countries with technical assistance, to the widest extent possible, by providing technical cooperation and advisory services.
  2. Organize awareness campaigns to introduce domestic workers’ rights and implement projects and programs aiming at educating and legally supporting domestic workers in cooperation with competent governmental authorities and civil society organizations.
  3. Cooperate with the Government of Kuwait to enable it to implement its obligations under the ILO’s conventions ratified by the State of Kuwait.
  4. Urge the State of Kuwait to implement the accepted voluntary commitments under the universal periodic review mechanism (upr), in particular the accepted recommendations concerning the pursue of its efforts to guarantee the safety, security and dignity of migrant workers, including domestic workers, and the protection of their interests by taking the necessary institutional and legislative measures, as well as ensure their rights in accordance with international standards, prosecute those who commit violence against domestic workers, adopt specific standards for the complaints mechanisms, as well as ensure the law’s enforcement and incorporate penalties therein against those who violate the law.

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