One of the most common concerns or topics that I deal with is employment law. Disputes are very common between employers and an employee and since I have experience as an employer and an employee, I can sometimes understand where these disputes arise from. We have cases at the firm from end of service benefits, to transfers, to receiving passports, and so on. If you do have an issue at work, please do not stress, there is always a solution for everything. The best thing to do is to research and try to reach an amicable deal with your employer.
Today I am going to discuss the most common issues in Kuwait for expats and what is the best legal way to deal with them.
Question: I know that I am entitled to end of service benefits, but my employer refuses to give me any benefits, claiming that I need to transfer my visa first. Is this true?
Fajer: It is very common for employers to state that the end of service benefits will not be given to the employee unless a transfer is first done. I do not think this is fair, transfers can take a long time at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) and employers need to give what is rightfully due to employees. I always advise that when you ask or a transfer in MSAL, also request your indemnity. The Kuwaiti law has given many privileges to the employer and therefore I honestly think that even though the process of obtaining the rights can take a long time, you should ask for your rights in any way possible.
Question: What can I do in order to obtain my end of service benefits?
Fajer: I always advise my clients to first try and negotiate with their employer. If the employer does not want to negotiate, then also ask your lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. If not, then your lawyer can go to court. Before your lawyer takes the issue to court, your lawyer will have to go through MSAL, which is also a safe place for both parties to negotiate.
Time and cost
Question: How long does the process take and how much does it cost to go to a lawyer? Does the court pay me back what I paid the lawyer?
Fajer: The process takes from eight months to two years, depending on the issue itself. The cost also depends on your lawyer and what work your lawyer agrees to do for you. Please note that employment can be costly. The court does rule legal fees for the winning party but the legal fees are inadequate and are way lower than what a lawyer would usually charge.
Question: What do I need to keep in mind when transferring my visa? My transfer is taking way longer than I anticipated and now that my visa has expired, I am worried about the consequences.
Fajer: The first thing to keep in mind is that the process does take a long time and if you do not have permission from your previous employer, then it will take even longer.
The second thing to keep in mind is that your passport should have at least one more year before it expires, otherwise your new residency will not be transferred. You will also need to pay any late fees; they are calculated on a per day basis for every day passed since your visa expired.
I hope the above helps. Should you have any further queries, please feel free to email me at [email protected]
By Attorney Fajer Ahmed