– Contracted employee in public sector can transfer visa to same employer after paying KD 300 fee
– Private sector employee can transfer visa without employer’s approval after three years
– Employer can file absconding case against an employee if he is absent for 7 days
KUWAIT: The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has issued various new rules and regulations related to expatriate workers. But some employees and workers are not aware of the rights these rules entitle them to, especially non-Arabic speakers. In order to improve work conditions, the ministry established the Public Authority for Manpower (PAM), which works under its umbrella and has many responsibilities.
Aseel Al-Mazyad, Director of the Public Relations and Information Department at the authority, shed light on the various ministry decrees that have removed many restrictions. Exceptions for transferring visas that were not allowed in the past are now possible. In October 2015, the ministry issued two decrees – 134/2015 and 135/2015 – regulating transferring residencies of expat employees after paying a fee of KD 300.
Decree 134 is related to employees in the public sector. “According to this decree, an employer who brought an employee from abroad to work on a contract is allowed to transfer the visa of this employee to his main file by paying KD 300,” Mazyad told Kuwait Times. Decree 135 is related to employees working in the private and oil sectors. “According to this decree, an employer can transfer the residency of an employee to work in his company after an exemption of the period condition by the Higher Committee for Work Conflicts by paying KD 300, she added.
She also spoke about decree 378/2016, which amended article 6 of decree 842/2015 regarding transferring workers from one employer to another for those who can transfer their visas. “The employee can transfer his residency from his employer after three years of the date of issue of his work permit without the approval of his employer. But the employee is obliged to give his employer the legal notice period according to article 44 of law No 6/2010,” stressed Mazyad.
If the employee cannot give the employer notice for the abovementioned period, he has to submit a complaint at the Labor Relations Department to inform the employer. The submission date of this complaint is considered the beginning of the notice period. The employer is not allowed to file an absconding report against the absent employee during this period.
According to Mazyad, government contracts will be excluded from the three-year period mentioned in this article, according to the following conditions: 1- If the government contract has expired. 2- If the employer does not have another government contract to which he can transfer the employee. 3- If the owner of the government contract sets a condition in advance for the employer whose contract has expired that his employees will be transferred after winning a government project bid. 4- Transfer of registered employees on government contracts is limited to technical professions only – for nontechnical professions, a fee according to ministry decree No 135/2015 should be paid.
An employer is authorized to file an absconding case against an employee if he is absent from work for more than seven consecutive days at the work relations department. The employer should send an electronic version of the absconding report to the inspection department, which should check that the employee is actually not working at that company. After ensuring that he is not working there, it will send the report to the work relations department confirming this fact. After receiving this report and after 90 days have passed, the work relations department (the unit in charge) will issue an absconding case to the ministry of interior, which will cancel his residency and issue an arrest order for the absconding employee.
Canceling absconding cases
The joint committee of the PAM and Ministry of Interior, which is in charge of judging absconding cases, can cancel the absconding case. This committee is in charge of all cases issued before January 4, 2016, a total of 18,385 cases. An absconding case can be canceled in two situations: If the employer drops the case before the committee and agrees to renew or transfer the employee’s visa to another sponsor. The second situation includes all the cases that are decided by the PAM. “For instance, duplicity of the sponsor – when the work permit is registered with one employer while the visa is with another sponsor. In this case, the employee will have two sponsors due to the negligence of the old employer in transferring the visa to the new employer, and this is not the mistake of the employee,” said Mazyad.
Other cases include holders of Palestinian travel documents, spouses and relatives of Kuwaiti nationals, reports that were proved malicious, reports that include mistakes, if the employee has received an approval of transfer, and other cases. “Employees have to attend personally when resolving transfer conflicts due to the personal nature of these conflicts. The employee is allowed to be accompanied by a lawyer. For conflicts of indemnity, the attendance of the employee is not necessary, as it is a financial conflict and if it isn’t resolved amicably, it would be transferred to the court, contrary to visa transfer cases that are out of the court’s competency,” she added.
The authority also issued a new employment contract for the private sector. This contract includes many benefits for the employees, the most significant of which is the obligation for the employer to pay health insurance fees, which many employees pay.
During the first quarter of this year, the number of violations at the inspection department reached 538. “These violations were transferred for investigation after being reviewed by the violations committee. These include violations such as work safety, workers’ accommodation and many others,” concluded Mazyad.
By Nawara Fattahova