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Contract problems

 I joined a company on Nov 4, 2011 as an Electrical Engineer (Trainee). I am an Electrical Engineer by qualification, but my visa is that of a technician.

My basic salary is KD 160. When I joined this firm, the company told me to sign an employment contract for 2 years. As per that contract, after 2 years the contract would be renewed automatically for an indefinite period and any party could terminate the contract with a notice of three months.

On October 2013, the company tried to force me to sign another contract by giving false assurances namely:

1) My visa will be changed from a Technician visa to an Engineer visa.

2) Driving license will be provided.

3) The contract will not bind the employee in any situation.

I didn’t agree to the second contract. So they sent me an inter office memo stating that my visa would be changed to an Engineer visa upon the renewal of my residence. But in Nov 2013, my visa was not changed to an Engineer visa. When I went to ask about this, they told it was under process and would be changed soon.

It’s 6 months since the date of my degree certificate submission. But until now my visa has not been changed. When I asked the company to release my degree certificate, the management told me it was under visa processing ... until now the company is holding my Engineering degree certificate and passport.

I have some family problems in India, so I resigned my job on March 18, 2014. But the company didn’t accept my resignation and threatened me ... they said I would have pay them 40,000 US dollars or I should sign another contract that I would not come to Kuwait for the next 2 years.

The company is harassing and cheating me in the following ways:

1) They did not accept my resignation.

2) As per the offer letter and 1st contract the term of contract is 2 years but has now been extended to 4 years ... by cheating.

3) As per offer letter overtime is not applicable but the company is forcing me to work overtime —- more than 150 hours per month.

4) The training period is 18 months as per offer letter in the 1st contract but it has now been changed to 2 years.

5) In the contract it is mentioned that the second contract was signed on 4th Nov 2011 nullifying the 1st contract.

6) When one contract was still valid, the company forced me to sign another contract by changing the terms and conditions.

7) The company is holding my passport and Engineering degree

8) Overtime is not given as per the Kuwait Labor Law.

9) The company is saying that I am a trainee engineer but until now no training has been given.

Name withheld

Answer: First of all you have not mentioned whether you were hired locally or from abroad. If you were hired locally, the company can’t stop your transfer to another firm once you complete one year with the company.

If, however, you were hired from abroad then you can’t ask for a release before completing three years service with the firm. And if you insist on leaving the company, it can ask you to compensate it for the loss suffered because of you not completing your contract. This can be equal to at least the amount of salaries for the uncompleted part of the contract. It can also take you to court and seek damages because of your action.

The company can’t, however, retain your passport or any other personal document.

On the other hand, if you feel that your rights have not been given — as you have mentioned — and you have proof, you can file a case with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, through the Labor Office in your area.

If the ministry finds that you have been robbed of your rights, it will not only ensure that you get all that is due to you, it will also sanction your transfer even if the company refuses to give you a release.

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