By Attorney Fajer Ahmed
To all teachers and educators, a big thank you for all you have done this year and for trying to help out students virtually at this time. I have seen so many teachers providing resources on social media and tips for children at home. It is very inspiring and humbling. Thank you.
As you may have heard, Kuwait, like many other countries, has postponed this academic year. Kuwait has also suspended all commercial flights from the airport and there has not been a lot of movement in and out of Kuwait. Therefore, I can only assume this is a confusing time for everyone, so I am not surprised that I am getting a lot of questions from teachers.
Question: As a teacher, I know I have no work until August. Am I allowed to leave Kuwait, since there is no school until August?
Fajer: Yes. The Kuwaiti government has stated that it will provide teachers with exit permits, but since the airport is closed right now, this might be confusing. If you want to go, you should call your embassy and ask them to help you get out of Kuwait, as they are allowing some flights to leave.
Question: Will I get paid for these months until August?
Fajer: Yes, you should be if your contract is not ending. If your contract ends before August, then discuss it with your school if you can renew it, and if not, you should get paid till the end of your contract. This includes your summer salary if your contract allows you to come back next year.
If your agreement started last June, for instance, and ends this June, then you will only get paid until this June, assuming you took a 30-day holiday at least. I know this is confusing as most teachers in Kuwait in the private sector have agreements from August/September until June, with a three-month holiday.
Question: I would like to leave but file an employment case against my school. How can I do this?
Fajer: First of all, instead of filing a case, I urge you to first speak to your school and try to negotiate things – please understand this is a tough time for everyone. Secondly, I would consider speaking to a lawyer who can assist you with providing them with a POA (power of attorney), so that you they can file the case on your behalf later.
With many public and private institutes, organizations and companies closed right now, it is best to speak to a lawyer virtually, so that if you leave Kuwait, you can still provide a POA from abroad. I am hoping to see more governmental procedures get online, such as filing an employment complaint at the shuoon (manpower authority) or obtaining a POA, like other countries in the GCC.
Also, please keep in mind that the Kuwaiti government has done everything in its power and more, exceeding everyone’s expectations to keep us all safe. Soon, when the situation in Kuwait is stable, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are new regulations on how to deal with situations like these. So stay safe, keep an open mind and heart, and let’s be patient. I hope you get back to your families soon, safe and sound.
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