Ranked as the third largest economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait is a nation of opportunities due to its growing economy. As a result, the country has been attracting many foreigners in terms of investors and individuals seeking for employment opportunities. Based on the findings, the country receives many foreign workers, especially from India, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Among these workers, a higher percentage land in house help jobs, which are commonly referred to maids. Maids in Kuwait have been believed to experience bad working conditions and mistreatment from their employers. Moreover, reports from reliable sources, such as the Human Rights Watch state that maids in Kuwait and other GCC countries are overworked and underpaid. This implies that majority of maids in Kuwait are dissatisfied with their jobs. Job satisfaction, based on the findings, involves certain critical factors, such as the nature of the job, working hours, employee-employer relationship, and fair compensation among other factors. As such, this research proposal will seek to find whether maids in Kuwait are satisfied with their jobs. The research will employ a qualitative method, through which the researcher will collect data through interviews and questionnaires. As such, the findings of the study will be of benefit to employers and individuals willing to work in this sector since the outcome will reveal the underlying facts of the true nature of a maid’s job in Kuwait.
Keywords: Maid, Job Satisfaction, Kuwait, Employer, Domestic Workers, Working Conditions, Nature of Job.
Job Satisfaction among Maids in Kuwait
Kuwait is the third-largest economy in the Gulf Cooperation Council, making it third to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The nation’s economy compound growth is estimated at 15% between the years 2008 and 2012 (U.S. Department of State, 2014). Due to such factors, Kuwait has been receiving foreigners in large numbers whose desire is to seek employment in the quest for better incomes and living standards. According to the Human Rights Watch (2010), the country hosts more than one million foreign nationals who work in various sectors, which represent more than 80% of the country’s total workforce. In 2007, 545,000 of the one million foreign workers were domestic workers (Schwenken & Heimeshoff, 2011). However, according to the Human Rights Watch (2010), more than 700,000 migrants were working as domestic workers in Kuwait. The country mainly receives domestic workers from Sri-lanka, Phillipines, Indonesia, and India, with the majority of them being women (Schwenken & Heimeshoff, 2011).
The high numbers of migrants to Kuwait implies that the country has job opportunities, especially in the domestic sector, which the local labour market is not able to supply.
The International Labour Organisation (2013) defines a domestic worker as ‘any person engaged in domestic work within an employment relationship; a person who performs domestic work only occasionally or sporadically and not on an occupational basis is not a domestic worker,’ (p.8). The International Labour Organisation (2013) further states that the work of domestic workers is primarily to perform domestic tasks that range from cooking, cleaning, gardening, and looking after elderly people among many other depending on the employer. Therefore, domestic workers are either maids, cooks, gardeners, gatekeepers, babysitters, tutors, or waiters. As such, this research study seeks to find out the level of job satisfaction among maids in Kuwait.
Background and Motivation of the Study
The main purpose for undertaking this research is to examine the level of job satisfaction among maids in Kuwait. Job satisfaction among maids in Kuwait is a topic that has not been intensively studied, hence there is a knowledge gap in this field. However, there exist many reports from both the government and private institutions, which report on domestic workers in general but fail to focus on maids. As such, this paper will specifically study whether maids in Kuwait are satisfied with their jobs and the factors that lead to job satisfaction among this type of job.
Most of the existing reports on working conditions of maids working in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have revealed serious hidden abuses taking place. This is not only isolated to the maids but also to other domestic workers. According to the US Department of State (2007), Kuwait has well-documented labor laws, which are however not consistently applied and enforced. The USA International Business Publications (2007) state that the Kuwait labor laws restrict working hours to eight per day. However, domestic workers, such as maids are forced to endure long tiresome working hours with little compensation. Employers confiscate important documents of their employees, such as passports, making it hard to leave their employers and forced to endure hardships for a long time. Moreover, these maids have no voice, which makes it difficult to report abuses to the police since even their movement is restricted.
In 2006, Kuwait introduced protective laws stipulating the new employment contracts for domestic workers (Schwenken & Heimeshoff, 2011). The new standard employment contracts cover medical insurance and a minimum wage set at $ 147. Moreover, the Bureau for domestic workers was set-up to assist domestic workers through filling and following up with complaints. In spite of these many changes, the working conditions have been reported to be very poor with much complaints being received form these employees, yet no action is being taken by the government to protect them. According to Migrant Rights (2010e, cited in Schwenken and Heimeshoff, 2011), it is estimated that a domestic worker in Kuwait commits suicide mainly because of exclusion from the labour laws.
The level of fulfillment received from various employees varies depending on their goals and desires. However, there are certain factors that have to be in place for employees to appreciate and receive satisfaction from their jobs. Job satisfaction is the attitude or valuative response that employees have towards their jobs (Kusluvan, 2003). The major characteristics that determine job satisfaction include work load, job feedback, working conditions, job security, compensation, job autonomy, task identity, skill variety, job growth opportunity and supervisor-subordinate relation (Kusluvan, 2003; Frazier, 2009). These factors or characteristics affect the attitudes of employees towards their jobs and are important indicators of work place conditions. A workplace with these factors not only creates fulfillment to employees but also motivates them to put more effort to increase productivity (Kusluvan, 2003). According to Saiyadan (2009), different individuals receive satisfaction through different things, for instance, one individual may be satisfied by a job that has a good salary, good so-workers, and flexible time while another may be satisfied by the contribution he or she brings to the workplace, the good relationship with his or her supervisor and opportunities for growth.
The idea behind searching for employment is to meet certain individual needs. However, employees are not only willing to work in order for them to meet their basic needs and improve their living standards. In situations where employment becomes a risk to career development, health and life, most employees opt to leave rather than suffer in their current workplaces. According to Frazier (2009), job dissatisfaction leads to high employee turnover in an organisation if the nature of a job is not changed to meet the needs of the employees.
Purpose of the Study
Maids in Kuwait are important workers in the country who like other workers contribute to the economy. As workers, they are entitled to good working conditions and fair compensation and treatment, among other job characteristics. Despite maids not being in a formal environment with a structured organization and functions, such as the human resource department, which is able to push for better working terms, the domestic employees ought to provide conducive working conditions for them in order to boost job satisfaction among the maids. As such, this study aims at examining the level of job satisfaction among maids in Kuwait. An analysis of the results from the study will offer an explanation as to whether maids in Kuwait receive fulfilment in their jobs or whether their jobs dissatisfy them. Moreover, data collected from the study will reveal the nature and the working conditions of their jobs, which will assist in establishing reliable facts about satisfaction derived from working as a maid in Kuwait.
The specific objectives of this research include;
- To find out the level of job satisfaction among maids.
- To find out the different perceptions held by maids concerning their jobs and their employers.
- To establish the underlying facts regarding the job nature of a maid in Kuwait.
- To establish major satisfiers that lead to job satisfaction among maids in Kuwait.
- To develop a job satisfaction framework for improving work morale among maids in Kuwait.
The following Hypothesis was therefore formulated for empirical testing:
H1: Maids in Kuwait are dissatisfied with their jobs due to workload, poor compensation and lack of Job autonomy.
H2: The working conditions for maids provided by employers are poor.
H3: Maids in Kuwait exhibit a high dislike for their jobs
H4: The existing relationship between maids and their employer is bad.
The research will employ a qualitative approach through the use of interviews and observations. Moreover, through descriptive analysis, which entails detailed descriptions of situations, the study will be able to collect reliable and relevant information from the participants. Through observation, the researcher will be able to reach to important conclusions that are difficult to establish when using quantitative methods, such as questionnaires. The researcher will prefer using surveys in order to reach many maids in Kuwait, but it would prove challenging considering that most of them are migrants with little knowledge on the written English language. In spite of this challenge, interviews will prove liable since interaction with participants will help to gather first-hand data, which will bring more insight to the research.
Based on statistics provided by the Human Rights Watch (2010), there are many domestic workers in Kuwait, and women make up around 82% of all foreign domestic workers. This implies that there is a huge number of maids working in Kuwait, which both consist of local and foreign individuals, the exact figure is difficult to establish.
Putting into consideration the movement restriction on maids in Kuwait, it will be challenging to access an appropriate number for this study. Therefore, the study will employ random sampling. In random sampling, units in a population have equal chances of being selected (Congalton & Green, 2002) hence eliminating the possibility of bias results. Random sampling will enable me to access willing participants since most maids and domestic workers are not willing to comment or speak out about their jobs and employers.
It is the responsibility of employers to create good working conditions, which will enable maids to do their jobs well. In most cases, employees whose jobs provide no satisfaction end up being frustrated, which leads to job stress that can elevate to severe depression if no medical attention is sought. A critical question to this study is the level of satisfaction that maids receive form their employment. Amongst many other things, it means having a good relationship with the employer, receiving job feedback, receiving a fair compensation, having time to rest, and also feeling valued and appreciated. This research will seek to explore whether the critical factors that lead to job satisfaction are met by their employers, with a view to formulating recommendations to assist in improving the maids’ attitudes towards their jobs, whilst also seeking to help employers understand the concept of job satisfaction and improving employee morale.
Based on the findings form the background information sourced form reliable sources, it is clear that domestic workers in Kuwait are living and working in very degradable conditions which include; long working house, physical abuse and lack of freedom. This means that maids, who are also domestic workers, are part of individuals who receive such treatment form their employers. However, the final research study will provide first-hand information, which will either add unknown facts to this field or disapprove previous studies conducted on this topic.
Due to factors, such as lack of education and poverty, many individuals seek employment in the informal sector. For instance, a job as a domestic worker. Some of these individuals seek employment either in their countries and if lucky enough, they secure one in foreign countries. The GCC countries are the major nations where foreigners seek employment as domestic workers. Kuwait for instance receives huge numbers foreigners seeking work as domestic workers especially as maids. Most of these foreigners are women from India, Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka with a new hope for their future. However, research evidence show that domestic workers in the Kuwait as well as in other GCC countries are not protected by the labour laws and therefore they become victims of severe abuse, which has also resulted to the suicide.
As such, this research proposal aims at establishing the level of job satisfaction among maids in Kuwait. The research findings will not only enhance my analytical skills and critical thinking skills but also be helpful to employers and other individuals seeking employment as maids in Kuwait. Moreover, the research findings will establish job characteristics that may lead to fulfillment and satisfaction on the part of the employees, therefore, improving their attitudes towards their jobs and improving their productivity. Job satisfaction is an important factor that enables employers to retain their employees and hence the study findings will create awareness of physical and psychological needs considered essential to maids. This research will also establish the underlying facts of working as a maid in Kuwait through revealing the working conditions and nature of their jobs. Though maids have been reported to have extreme bad working conditions through abuse and mistreatment, this research will be conducted independent of other reports. The research will put into consideration confidentiality for the sake of the participants safe
Congalton, R.G., & Green, K. (2002). Assessing the Accuracy of Remotely Sensed Data: Principles and Practices. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.
Frazier, D.P. (2009). Job Satisfaction of International Educators. San Clemente, CA: Universal Publishers.
International Labour Organisation. (2013). Domestic Workers across the World: Global and Regional Statistics and the Extent of legal Protection.
Kusluvan, S. (2003). Managing employee attitudes and behaviors in the tourism and hospitality industry. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Saiyadain, M. S. (2009). Human resources management. New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill Pub.
Schwenken, H. (2011). Domestic workers count: Global data on an often invisible sector. Kassel: Kassel Univ. Press.
USA International Business Publications. (2007). Kuwait Justice System and National Police Handbook. New York: Int’l Business Publications.