Strengthening the oversight of the manpower authority

Muna Al-Fuzai

I have been following for some time now the efforts of the Public Authority for Manpower and its measures to prevent violations of the labor law in Kuwait in order to protect the rights of both the worker and the employer.

The authority has imposed multiple penalties in cases of violation of the provisions of the law – from temporary suspension of the employer’s file to permanent suspension and referral to judicial authorities. This is all well and good. But supervision and follow-up is essential to stop any attempt of manipulation by any party.

The partial suspension is temporary until the violation is resolved. The authority has the power to lift the suspension temporarily to grant the employer time to amend the situation, and the file can be sealed if the reasons for the suspension are not addressed. This is as important as follow-up and scrutiny.

I believe PAM is active in its efforts to carry out its work, but I also see some licensees trying to circumvent the law and exploit the privileges of the license that has been granted to them. These include those who close the shop but have registered employees on their licenses, or fake employees registered on the license who do not actually work for them. This is a danger to the security of the country and it also means there are people who are in the country without a real job, mostly self-employed in return for paying a large sum of money to the license holder annually for a work permit.

I know there are surprise inspections of workplaces, but not all workplaces are like restaurants, because there are licenses for institutions or small companies with limited workers that may not exceed three people, for example. So the question remains – how many companies have real employees and an actual worksite as mentioned in the file of employment at the ministry of social affairs and labor and PAM?

The other important issue concerns absconding reports filed against workers. The authority allows an employer to file an absconding notice against a worker if they are absent from work for seven days. The employer is obliged to notify the worker’s absence from work to the interior ministry within 15 days.

What is important to me is to verify the authenticity of the complaint, because in the past some employers tried to avoid paying the salary of the worker by filing an absconding complaint against him. When this worker is arrested he loses his dues, while the employer will escape accountability. That is history now, because the labor law now seems to solve this problem by specific procedures that verify the veracity of the complaint. I think this ends one path of possible manipulation.

However, the authority has the power to deprive the worker of a work permit if it is proven that he violated the provisions of the labor law or the labor contract. This is why I believe that verifying the correctness of the complaint is important to avoid mistakes that may be at the expense of the worker and the employer.

I believe that the labor law is clear and comprehensive in all aspects and upholds the rights of workers, because it is the only law has an understanding of the circumstances of the expat worker. But this doesn’t mean the end of all possible mistakes or cheating, so follow-up and audits along with the amendment and updating of laws and procedures are required to preserve workers’ rights. I urge all workers to seek to read and understand the labor law in Kuwait to know what to do and not do.

By Muna Al-Fuzai
[email protected]

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