I am writing to the Arab Times because I need advice regarding my employment status.
Here’s my story:
Company A and company B went to a certain country to recruit employees. Company A is a manpower agency that has a contract with company B. Company B is a government institution and the employees work in the said institution. Both companies are from Kuwait.
Company A sought help from a local manpower agency to supply employees. The employees were asked by the local agency to sign a provisional job offer from Company A stating that the employee would work for Company B under Company A with free housing, etc.
The offer was for 2 years. Fast forward to 2 years, company B decided to extend its contract with company A. Both companies also failed to give the employees another contract for the extension. This time company A no longer provided its employees visa 18 rather has given them visa 14. When asked, company A said it due to contract issues with company B. After issuing visa 14 for 3 times, company A stopped giving it’s employees visa while holding unto the latter’s passports. A month ago, the employees asked Company A for the status.
Company A said that because of the contract with Company B having signature problems and such, they are unable to process the necessary documents for the procurement of visa. Also, Company A said that within a week they will be able to provide the employees visa even if it’s Ramadan. So, Company A advised the employees to wait.
After a few weeks, the employees learned that they can have visa provided Company A pay the penalties incurred. However, Company A insists that Company B should shoulder the expenses. Now the employees are caught between the disputes of the 2 companies, waiting for legal papers while fearing deportation, not to mention 2 months without financial compensation. Company A said it’s because Company B hasn’t paid the former yet but the latter said it did. When asked if an employee can be released from this contract and join another company, Company A said that the employee can submit a resignation letter but the employee must pay for the months remaining in the said contract.
Then the company can provide a temporary visa for the transfer. Recently, Company A said that:
(1) they can no longer provide the employees any visa and
(2) employees have an option to stay with Company B under a new agency if they wish.
My questions are:
1. Are the employees considered to be under project visa?
2. Can employees ask for a copy of the extension contract? It is clear that only both companies have a say with the said extension but is it possible for an employee to ask Company A for a copy for proof?
3. Are the employees, in any way, responsible for paying the penalties and fines if neither company pays the fees?
4. In this case, can an employee transfer to a private company not related to the 2?
5. Say, an employee wishes to stay in Company B under a new agency can the new agency process documents even without visas? Who should shoulder the penalties?
6. The new agency said that employees who wish to transfer must pay KD 300 for the transfer fee. Is it true? Even if it’s the same work-company?
7. (a) Is it possible for an employee to end the contract and return back to his country? (b) Will the employee pay any penalties then? (c) Will the employee be able to get proper documents like employment certificate, no objection certificate and police clearance?
Answer: We can’t really say what sort of residence you have because you are working for a private sector firm which has a contract for some work at a government institution.
Similar is the case for cleaning workers. So, you could be on either sort of visa. You need to check with either of the companies. If it turns out that you have a private visa, you won’t have trouble transferring to another firm at the end of your contract but if it is a government residence, then you can only extend your residence in the same company or transfer to another firm which gets the same contract.
In fact you can transfer, after a mutual agreement between the various parties to any company which gets the same contract. And yes, it is your right to see whatever contract you are made to sign on the extension of the residence although you gave no right to see the contract reached between the two companies.
On the issue of penalties and fines, the employees are not responsible for these and the same have to be paid by either of your employers. Even if there is any transfer fee involved, the same has to be paid by your company, unless you resign from your current employer.
By the way, the transfer fee to another government project with the same sponsor is KD 200 while it is KD 300 only if you transfer to another government project with a different sponsor.
If you remain with the same sponsor he has to pay the fees although a different sponsor may require you to pay the fees while the law calls for the sponsor to pay the fees in both the cases.
And lastly, an employee can leave the company on completion of the contract but if he wishes to leave at any time during the contract he could be asked to pay an amount equal to his salary for the remaining part of the contract. And on the issue of the certificates, he is entitled to the service certificates but the employer may or may not grant him the no objection certificate (NOC).
The employer is under no obligation to do so and if he does not, you will have to leave the country and return to the country on a new visa because government visas can’t be transferred even to another government project without the NOC. For the Police Clearance Certificate you have to apply to the Ministry of Interior office in Dajeej, Farwaniya.