I am writing on behalf of many co-workers who seek your advice. Thank you for your guidance in advance.
We are working for a reputed Korean management company, whose administration supervisor is harassing us to impress his boss plus for self satisfaction.
Even we don’t have permission to meet the HR manager. Some of his “deeds” are as follows: The salary mentioned in the work permit is KD 410. He is calculating the hourly rate (KD 1.5) by dividing the salary by 26 days and 10.5 hours. He is not paying us the 1.25 times salary for a normal day’s overtime after 11 hours.
One of us was promised pay for 8 hours plus 2 hours daily overtime (we have email proof), but he is not getting paid for the 2 hours.
We are working 10 hours + 1 hour lunch break daily. During Ramadan we have to work for 8 hours to get our basic pay. He refuses to issue a salary slip, deduction details and many of us are paid less for overtime or for annual leave. During the annual leave, the food allowance is deducted and payment made only for accommodation, with the leave — counting weekends and public holidays — only 30 days.
The work permits and contract agreements (even not signed) are not issued to many of us for the first year.
After completing one year, he renews many contracts without the company’s common increment policy or our consent. If we travel during the public holidays, he deducts the salary for that day. We need to give him our Civil ID to get our passport for any embassy-related work. He refuses to get the signature of our sponsor for driving license, renewal, salary certificate for personal loans etc.
During the annual vacation, if flight fares are high he will ask us to take the ticket but pay only for a part of it or change the departure date. Many of us were hired from outside Kuwait but he refuses to give us a transfer paper even when we have completed 2 years.
He sends people back to their home country after cancelling their visas. While applying for new visas, we face some problems because he does not cancel the work permits. He is totally not cooperative and basically a sadist.
We complained to our managers many times but no action was taken. It is very hard to find another job nowadays so many of us are continuing in this job. If we question him, he says it’s company policy. We feel like in such companies, the company policy is of more value than the Kuwait Labor Law.
Answer: First of all, whatever your supervisor is doing is totally wrong and against the labor laws of Kuwait. He can’t get away by saying that all the wrong actions he is taking is company policy. Because if this really the case, the company is violating the Kuwait Labor Law and could face legal action if the case is reported to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. Secondly, your supervisor or your company can’t make you work over 8 hours a day without paying you overtime for the extra hours that you put in, regardless of how they interpret the law … they are wrong.
The senior management of the Korean company should understand that they are in serious violation of Kuwait labor laws which could result in vary serious action against the company, including very hefty fines … and if the company doesn’t end violations of Kuwaiti laws its contract could also be cancelled. Both the workers and the company need to understand that the employees can be made to work a maximum of 8 hours daily (except for Ramadan) with a one hour break after 5 hours. For Ramadan, the maximum working hours are 6 only.
On the issue of public holidays, the workers can do whatever they want to on these days (unless the firm requires the employees to be on duty for which it has to pay an extra double of the daily salary as overtime). They can even travel out of the country and the firm has no right to deduct the workers’ salaries.
The supervisor is also not allowed to retain any of your personal documents (Civil ID and passport). The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is very strict on this issue but unfortunately a lot of even well-known firms are committing this violation and getting away with it. The calculation of the overtime is also wrong and so is both the annual leave.
This leave is for 30 working days and the payment should be done dividing 30 by 26 and multiplying the result with the salary.
The violations committed by your company are unending and we suggest that you somehow bring the above matter to the notice of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. The best way would be to quietly inform your embassy of the issue and let the embassy, without revealing names of the complainants, take up the case with the ministry. Such violations, if brought to the notice of the government, will not go unpunished.