Monday, September 29, 2008

Kuwait Employment Packages – What to ask for/What to Expect

I’ve had so many questions on “What should I ask for and what should I expect?” when moving to Kuwait for a job that I thought I would write a little diddy on it:

What you should ask for (standard) on any contract in Kuwait:

Accommodation Allowance (note that if they offer you shared accommodation, make sure that they specify how many people per apartment and how many bedrooms and in what area/s)
Transportation Allowance (note that if they offer you a vehicle, make sure they specify what type/year of vehicle. If the vehicle is to be shared, make sure that they specify the T&Cs)
RT Annual Ticket Home
Private Health Insurance (government hospitals are poor quality)
Vacation (14 - 30 days. 30 days for most Westerners)

Gas allowance
Mobile phone allowance (depending on necessity of use at work. Phone charges in Kuwait are on the rise.)

Now, what the company might do is to include all the above in one "all inclusive" payment offer. If they do, you should be prepared to negotiate; know the costs for each of the above. Be prepared.

Labour Law/Probation Period/Contract vs Offer Letter

ALL work in Kuwait - regardless of your nationality or the HQ location of your company - is governed by the  Kuwait Labour Law. It was written in 1964 and updated in 2010 (LINK HERE); updated to the benefit of employees.  Learn it.  Understand it.  Own it.  Don't become a sucker to Tha Man!

The law stipulates that both the employee and employer have a 90 day probation period during the first 90 days of your employment. You can leave (or be asked to leave) at any time with no notice during that time period. If you have been provided a relocation allowance, depending on the T&C of your agreement with your new employer, you may have to reimburse the company.

Following the first 90 days, you/your employer must give 90 days notice (unless otherwise stated in your employment contract). The employer may choose to willingly allow you to leave their employment before the 90 day notice period is over; or pay you to leave if it is their determination that they no longer want you to remain on site.  During this notification period, you are allowed ONE DAY OFF per week to look for other employment.  It is your right by law.  Notify your employer in writing of the day of the week you intend to be out of the office, so you have a documented record.

If you do not have an employment contract, anything in your offer letter serves as your contract. In my case, I asked about a bonus scheme in my interview and they said, "Yes, we do have one and you will be included." Actually, my company does not offer an annual bonus scheme and since it was not in my offer letter, I am not entitled to one.  However, the Kuwait Labor Law supercedes any contract you have with the employer, so it is always to the benefit of the employee.

If your contract states that you don't get overtime, indemnity or 30 days vacation:  IT IS ILLEGAL.  Everyone, regardless of whether you are management or labor (as the Kuwait Labor Law does not make that distinction) is governed by the same law.  The ONLY place of employment where the Kuwait Labor Law does not apply is on foreign (non-Kuwaiti soil):  Embassies.  Military installations in Kuwait are NOT PERMANENT BASES.  They are camps.  If you have an Article 18 work visa, you are governed by the Kuwait Labor Law.  Sneaky/unethical employers will try to make you believe that you don't get your benefits when, in fact, you do.  Maintain logs of overtime!  It is very important.

In the event that you have to sue, you must first sue your sponsor (who ever is listed as your sponsor).  The sponsor can then sue your foreign employer (if that is the case).

Inflation vs Salaries

Kuwait is witnessing an 11% inflation rate these days. Housing and transportation will be the largest costs to employees. Food prices are quickly rising in the country. Because inflation has risen so much and salaries have remained somewhat the same, many expats have been lured to other GCC countries for work (UAE and Qatar as examples) where they will receive higher salaries. Make sure that your offer letter or contact states that you will be guaranteed an annual incremental raise of (x%). Otherwise, you might not get a raise at all.

Salary Information - Ranges
"What is the salary range for a .....". Salary statistics are hard to come by in Kuwait. Salary surveys have been conducted by some of the recruitment agencies, but much of the information is not available. I've found that the best statistical information is from Sometimes you have to call around and ask the local recruiters the "from" and "to" ranges for your particular job category. Expect huge gaps: They base the salary ranges often on nationality as the cost of living and salary ranges in one country are not what they are in another.


Dudes - puhleeze: I don't know if 1,000 kd for you and your family coming from India as a computer programmer is going to be enough money. I don't know how much an average cost of groceries is for a month. Why? Because I'm not you. I'm not a computer programmer. What I'm saying is: I don't know what is right for each person because I don't know what your standard of living is, where you are coming from, what your qualifications/education is, etc. You have to do the research on these things on your own. Put your big girl panties on and do the necessary work (or hire me at 50 kd an hour and I'll do it for you). All I can do is tell you what to ask for and tell you a little about where to turn to research (like asking local recruiters for the "From" and "To" ranges of any particular job category). I honestly don't have the answers to these kinds of questions - as much as I would really love to help everyone.

Check out my DG Index on the Cost of Living in Kuwait on this blog (link on right) that will give you an indication of expenses.

Good luck and best wishes.


Anonymous said...

Thnaks for your blog and interesting points mentioned about Kuwait employment packages. I received an offer this week and I am still undecided if the package is good for a good living. The package is 1200KD (including home allowance, transport etc). I will have a 30% performance bonus and medical insurance (+allowance for spouse) but did not include any flights for me (and spouse) per year.
I will be working as a telecom manager and lived and worked in UK.

Is this a good package to start? and is accomodation (2 bedroom) more expensive than 300KD?

Again I thank you for your comments


Desert Girl said...

Hi MP,

I am having a hard time finding a 2 bedroom apartment for less than around 400 KD. They are out there, but in areas where I don't want to live, etc.

Your 1200 KD - is that all inclusive of transport and accommodations or is the T&A (ha ha) additional amounts?

I don't know the salary ranges for your field. I honestly think you should contact recruiters who would know the ranges.

1200 (if that is the total package)seems a little low to me for someone relocating from the UK in a management position, but I am really not sure.

The bonus sounds good. Flights aren't terribly expensive to the UK.

Lots of factors to weigh. You won't have to pay income tax and the cost of living - fer sure - is less than the UK. You also won't spend a whole lot of money on entertainment here (except at Starbucks!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments,

To tell you the truth, I saw it a little low from my side but was not sure what is the acceptable salary for an MBA grad with 8 years experience in Telecom. On the other hand I am very willing to re-locate in Kuwait since here in UK (and Europe) the economy is having a negative effect on our pockets:(

Accomodation and living in Kuwait is getting expensive? With 1200KD forking out accomodation for 400KD is not good. Especially if I have to cough additional costs like food, transport etc.

Thnaks for the advice and would be great if you can advice any sites that can give me an indication of salaries and benefits in my industry

Again Thx for your comments and keep up the good work!!...the blog is inspirational and comments are inspirational :)


Anonymous said...

Getting a good flat is pretty easy if you know people Mr. anonymous.. you could tell your friends to keep a watch out for good flats that become vacant if someone is willing to leave the country(which is a rare thing here !!)However if you're lucky enough to get a flat like that you rent could be as less as 250 per month..I also believe there is a brand new flat around Salmiya Indian School side and the rent is 250 I guess..check it out if it helps..

Sanjeewa said...

PM, (and benefit for others who are looking for the same info)

This seems to give useful benchmarks to be used for comparison of offers in Kuwait:

Hope this helps.

I am also an MBA grad planning to start work in Kuwait in Jan'09. Thanks Desert Girl for the very informative blog.


Desert Girl said...

Sanj - thanks so much for the link and good luck in your new job! :)

Blue-is-the-color said...

Hey Desertgirl, cud u tell me, hw good is 550 KD pm for an MBA in the role of Consultant with PRotiviti Risk Consulting..

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your information, Desert Girl. I bumped into your blog by accident and am enjoying it. If not bothering you too much I would like to ask you something. I am a portuguese 25 year old massage therapist and am really interested in moving to Kuwait City. Have sent some CVs to hotels with Spas but apart from that, even though I looked a lot online I don't know what else to do. Just in case you know, can you recommend any place where I can research and/or inquire about it? Something helpful?
Anyway, thanks for the already posted information you provided and keep up with the nice blog.

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Thanks for your helpful blog. I just want to know what to do if the company is not giving your monthly accommodation allowance even if it is stated on my contract separately from my salary because they told it is included on my salary and they were just forced to put it on my contract by some organization who processed my papers here in kuwait.

Anonymous said...

Hi Desert Girl, I am from India, Planning to mov eto Kuwait for job, so pla help me with some of the links through which i can apply for some jobs and get it done. I cant stay away from my family, and this decision is only for my family (Mom, Dad & my 3 lil sisters).plz help me


Hey Desert girl.......i came to know about ur blog from an expats blog of kuwait.......well im enquiring about the expected salary!!
I am a resident of Kuwait (on dependent Visa) n im applying for the Visual Merchandising post in stuck at the expected salary question....... Im a graduate in FAshion INDIA starting salary for VM is 20,000INR (=100KD), in US its is $22000 (=2000KD), since the difference is soo drastic thts why im stuck here, plz help me out in getting the idea about the general VM salary in Kuwait :D