By Attorney Fajer Ahmed
As a lawyer, I always ask myself before writing an article – what would people want to know about the law in Kuwait the most, for this week. A topic that has been on my mind lately is passports of expat employees and the misconceptions around them. Here are the most common questions and their answers:
Question: Is it legal for my company to hold my passport?
Fajer: No. It is illegal for employers to hold the passports of employees, and this is clearly stated in ministry resolution 143/A/2010 in Article 1: “It is prohibited for private sector employers and oil sector employers to hold travel documents of their employees.”
Question: What can I do if my boss is keeping my passport? I am afraid of arguing with them.
Fajer: I know that sometimes it is hard for an employee to do something against their employer, but you have to know your rights and ask for them. I would suggest you do the following – email your boss or the human resources department in writing, nicely. That way you have something in writing.
You can go to the ‘shuoon’ (ministry of social affairs and labor), where you can file a complaint. The ministry has set up a complaint department that makes the process of filing for labor rights easier than going through a court; you can always hire a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. You can also access the official website of the Public Authority of Manpower at https://www.manpower.gov.kw/EmploymentServiceEnglish.aspx, which might be helpful for you to understand your rights. Most importantly, remember to stand up for your rights. The Kuwaiti government has set all laws in place, so that employees have rights, but you have to ask for them.