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)
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 http://www.bayt.com/. 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.