Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By At­tor­ney Fa­jer Ahmed

Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil (GCC) states have re­ceived a lot of at­ten­tion re­gard­ing em­ploy­ment is­sues, even though we have pro­gressed im­mensely and are still do­ing so. We saw amend­ments last week to the ben­e­fit of em­ploy­ees, but there is still an is­sue that I would like to speak about - ab­scond­ing. It is a very se­ri­ous mat­ter that can have con­se­quences of de­por­ta­tion or worse - jail. I would like to fo­cus on this is­sue in hope to bring at­ten­tion to the mat­ter. Maybe the law or by­laws will be amended soon to re­solve is­sues that arise from ab­scond­ing.

Ab­scond­ing by def­i­ni­tion, ac­cord­ing to Mer­ri­amWeb­ster, is to de­part se­cretly and hide one­self. The word ab­scond­ing is a harsh word and is usu­ally used for some­one run­ning away from some­thing or even es­cap­ing from jail, but the gen­eral pub­lic seem to use the word in Kuwait to de­scribe an of­fense of leav­ing an em­ploy­ment con­tract with­out agree­ing with the em­ployer on the ter­mi­na­tion method. This can be very mis­lead­ing. Also from ex­pe­ri­ence, I have seen em­ploy­ers mis­use their power to file ab­scond­ing cases against their em­ploy­ees un­right­fully. To­day I will be talk­ing about my ex­pe­ri­ence han­dling le­gal cases re­lated to ab­scond­ing.

Lawyers deal­ing with ab­scond­ing cases say they are like night­mares - many also say that the pro­ce­dures and con­se­quences for ab­scond­ing cases in Kuwait are in­hu­mane. Re­cently, the Kuwait So­cial Work­ers So­ci­ety spoke about ab­scond­ing, and I hope to see more or­ga­ni­za­tions and pub­lic fig­ures speak about what is right for the peo­ple who live in Kuwait and make Kuwait a bet­ter place.

Ques­tion: I was told that there are two types of ab­scond­ing cases and they take 90 days to re­move. Can you ex­plain this please? How can I re­move an ab­scond­ing case against me?

Fa­jer: An ab­scond­ing case is usu­ally reg­is­tered at the shuoon (Pub­lic Author­ity for Man­power) for 90 days, be­fore it is trans­ferred to the Min­istry of In­te­rior, where it can be­come a se­ri­ous mat­ter. You can re­move the ab­scond­ing case against you from the shuoon be­fore 90 days have elapsed - ei­ther by the em­ployer him­self re­mov­ing the ab­scond­ing charge, or the em­ployee can sub­mit a re­quest to a com­mit­tee to re­move the ab­scond­ing case af­ter prov­ing that he/she was not ab­scond­ing.

Two types

Ques­tion: I have heard that there are new reg­u­la­tions mak­ing it even more dif­fi­cult for trans­fers. I was not al­lowed to trans­fer be­fore I re­moved any com­plaints I had against my em­ployer. Can you please ex­plain this?

Fa­jer: There is a new reg­u­la­tion num­ber 2 for 2017 that sim­ply states that an em­ployer will not be al­lowed to trans­fer with­out check­ing if the em­ployee has any re­straints from be­ing able to ac­cept such a trans­fer. This from a prac­ti­cal point means that em­ploy­ees are re­quested to re­move any com­plaints re­gard­ing the trans­fer of the visa. This is not true for com­plaints re­gard­ing mon­e­tary ben­e­fits such as ter­mi­na­tion in­dem­nity, leave bal­ance and so on.

The em­ployer will also not be al­lowed to trans­fer 15 days af­ter the per­mis­sion to trans­fer by the shuoon, as the pre­vi­ous em­ployer will have a right to ap­peal this de­ci­sion.

More dif­fi­cult

Ques­tion: I filed a com­plaint against my spon­sor at the shuoon, but he filed a case against me, claim­ing that I ab­sconded from work, when I did not. I ac­tu­ally re­signed. He would not give me my pass­port back, which he was hold­ing il­le­gally, so I filed a case at the shuoon. To my sur­prise, he had 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 stricter in Kuwait to­wards the em­ployee, and this un­for­tu­nately is be­ing abused by vi­o­lat­ing em­ploy­ers who have other is­sues against their em­ploy­ees. They do not want to pay ter­mi­na­tion in­dem­nity, so they might ac­cuse their em­ploy­ees of ab­scond­ing. How can you avoid this? 1) Al­ways have your ter­mi­na­tion/res­ig­na­tion in writ­ing. 2) If you do not 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.

Should you have any ques­tions or con­cerns, or you re­quire a con­sul­ta­tion, please email me at ask@fa­jerthelawyer.com


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