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What to do if your domestic helper absconds?

Many people complain about their housemaids escaping to their countries or to work on an hourly basis elsewhere. The affected citizens and expatriates may not know the legal procedures to submit necessary complaints against domestic workers. Kuwait Times interviewed lawyer Meshari Al-Rawi, who spoke about the rights of the sponsor and how to file a complaint if your housemaid escapes.

Kuwait Times: What are the legal procedures in case the maid escapes from the sponsor?
Rawi: There are some steps that must be taken in case a domestic worker escapes, such as the driver, guard, housemaid, etc. The correct legal procedures should be followed.
First: Ensure that the contracts made by the agency that brought the maid are clear. Keep copies and attach them when the maid escapes to the escape complaint filed at the department of domestic labor at the ministry of interior.
Second: File a case of absenteeism at the immigration department.
Third: After the investigation by the investigator of the department of domestic labor, take the complaint number and go to court to file a case against the maid or agency in case of failure to agree on a mutually satisfactory solution.

KT: What guarantees a sponsor must take from the agency to preserve their rights?
Rawi: Unfortunately, some sponsors lose their rights if they give the agency permission to take control of the procedures. In order to preserve their rights, the sponsor must follow these main steps:
First: When submitting an application with the agency, the contract terms and safety conditions must be reviewed, and the financial value should be agreed upon in the contract in words and numbers. Also, read the agency’s obligations in case of escape. The sponsor must have a copy to keep.
Second: Upon the arrival of the maid and before receiving the domestic helper, the agency must inform the maid of these terms of the contract and what the consequences are in case of escape.
Third: The maid must sign the contract after the registration of the maid’s full information, and the sponsor must keep a copy of the contract concluded between the parties.
Fourth: Receive the receipt of the payment to guarantee the financial value agreed between the sponsor and the agency.

KT: How should the sponsor act in case the maid travels to her country with his permission, but does not return on time? How can the sponsor protect themselves if she returns and works somewhere else?
Rawi: There are ways to protect the sponsor in case of a maid not returning. I will present two cases and will address them legally to preserve the rights of the sponsor.
The first case: When the maid requests to travel, but the contract between the sponsor and the maid has not ended. In this case, the maid must submit a travel request in writing to the sponsor to explain the reasons for travel, the date of travel and return to the country, the contact numbers in her country along with the address and sign the paper.
If the maid does not return by the specified date, the sponsor must submit a complaint at the department of domestic labor. After filing a case in court, the value of the contract and the value of the remaining wages on the contract must be calculated. If the maid returns after six months have elapsed under another sponsor, she will be arrested to pay the value of the sentence handed down.
The second case: When the maid travels after the end of the contract between the maid and the sponsor, and the maid promises to return to work with the sponsor.
In this case, the sponsor must get a written contract by the maid that she will come back. It will be like a new contract, so they should mention all details, such as increasing the salary of the maid or receiving an agreed financial value upon return or before the maid’s journey, the period of leave and return and means of communication as discussed in the first case.

KT: What advice can you give the sponsor to ensure their legal rights?
Rawi: My advice to all sponsors is to keep all documents safely, meet the terms of the contract and pay the salary on time to avoid any allegations by the maid.

By Faten Omar

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