Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By At­tor­ney Fa­jer Ahmed

As I have men­tioned in my col­umns and ar­ti­cles mul­ti­ple times, there are many le­gal con­cerns by ex­pats in Kuwait re­gard­ing their em­ploy­ment. Kuwait has gone a long way but there is still a lot that we need to work on for us to be a bet­ter and more wel­com­ing country. We have reg­u­la­tions and laws, but we need to dis­cuss the is­sues that we are hav­ing with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Kuwait La­bor Law and other by­laws re­gard­ing ex­pat em­ploy­ees.

There have been is­sues in the re­gion as well, but to­day I would like to briefly men­tion a country that has made tremen­dous and won­der­ful changes in the past few years. Qatar is a small and fairly new country, yet they have been ex­tremely suc­cess­ful in in­ter­na­tional law and pol­i­tics. It is true that Qatar has been scru­ti­nized in the past for vi­o­lat­ing hu­man rights law re­gard­ing em­ployee rights, but Qatar has changed many of their reg­u­la­tions. This week the head of the le­gal depart­ment at the Qatari Hu­man Rights Na­tional Coun­cil dis­cussed a new law pro­posed that reg­u­lates the en­trance of work­ing ex­pats in the country. I hope that Kuwait can fol­low suit, not by just en­forc­ing more by­laws but by cre­at­ing aware­ness on the laws that al­ready ex­ist. We need to make the law more ac­ces­si­ble to those liv­ing in the re­gion. In last week’s col­umn I dis­cussed crimes in Kuwait that could be of a com­mon con­cern to ex­pats. And al­though the word crime sounds se­ri­ous, the crimes that I will be dis­cussing to­day are ex­tremely com­mon (and I base that on my own hum­ble ex­pe­ri­ence). I use the word crime very loosely to de­fine ac­tions that have pun­ish­ments by law. These crimes hap­pen in the work field, they are rel­e­vant to ex­pat em­ploy­ees in Kuwait, and I think they are both un­fair to­wards ex­pats. There are reg­u­la­tions for both is­sues, but I re­ally think that Kuwait needs to look into both of these sit­u­a­tion from a prac­ti­cal point of view. Credit Cards/ Il­le­gal Spon­sor­ship Ques­tion: I am a US con­trac­tor and my salary is $10,000 that is trans­ferred to my Amer­i­can bank ac­count. Yet my com­pany keeps get­ting me to sign a yearly con­tract with my spon­sor/kafeel and that doc­u­ment has a salary of KD 1,200. I later found out that they even opened a bank ac­count un­der my name and they have been plac­ing KD 1,200 in my ac­count on a monthly ba­sis and with­draw­ing it! Isn’t this il­le­gal? Fa­jer:

1. Debit Cards- You would be sur­prised to know how many em­ploy­ees come to me with­out know­ing that they have bank ac­counts in Kuwait. Vi­o­lat­ing em­ploy­ers have a com­mon prac­tice of get­ting the em­ploy­ees to sign doc­u­ments or to give them the au­thor­ity to open up bank ac­counts on their be­half. These doc­u­ments are usu­ally in Ara­bic, and the em­ploy­ees have no idea that they have an ac­tive bank ac­count in Kuwait. Their salary as men­tioned in their con­tract at the Min­istry of La­bor and So­cial Af­fair could be less or more than what they are re­ceiv­ing by their em­ploy­ers, their ac­tual salary. Some com­pa­nies keep the debit cards with them, this con­sti­tutes as a crime from the em­ployer, may crimes de­pend­ing on the ac­tion in­volved. Please check and be care­ful. To an­swer the ques­tion, yes it is il­le­gal and you can file both crim­i­nal charges as well as civil cases against your em­ployer ask­ing for com­pen­sa­tion.

2. The other il­le­gal is­sue here is that you are work­ing un­der two con­tracts, one reg­is­tered just for spon­sor­ship pur­poses, while the other one is your ac­tual con­tract. This also a very com­mon prac­tice in Kuwait. Ab­scond­ing Ques­tion: I filed a com­plaint against my spon­sor in Shoon (Min­istry of So­cial Af­fairs and La­bor) but he put a case against me, claim­ing that I ab­sconded from work, when I didn’t. I ac­tu­ally re­signed. He wouldn’t give me my pass­port back, which he was hold­ing il­le­gally, so I filed a case in the Shoon. To my sur­prise though he filed an ab­scond­ing case against me. What can I do or what should I have done to avoid such a thing in the fu­ture? What is the pun­ish­ment for ab­scond­ing?

Fa­jer: Ab­scond­ing cases are now be­com­ing more and more strict in Kuwait to­wards the em­ployee, and this un­for­tu­nately is be­ing abused by vi­o­lat­ing em­ploy­ers who have other is­sues against their em­ploy­ees. They don’t want to pay ter­mi­na­tion in­dem­nity, they might ac­cuse their em­ploy­ees of ab­scond­ing. How can you avoid this? 1) Al­ways have your ter­mi­na­tion/res­ig­na­tion in writ­ing 2) If you don’t want to go to work be­cause your em­ployer is vi­o­lat­ing your rights, and it is not safe for you to stay there, then file a com­plaint first. Your em­ployer will not be able to ac­cuse of ab­scond­ing if you have filed a case first. The pun­ish­ment for ab­scond­ing in Kuwait is de­por­ta­tion, it is not looked into by a judge, you will be de­ported un­for­tu­nately.

For any le­gal ques­tions or queries, email ask@fa­

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