Legal Clinic

  • Embassy problems

    I am an Egyptian national and have been working at an Asian Embassy here in Kuwait for the last 15 years as a Secretary-Arabic Translator.

    I was locally recruited in Kuwait and hold a government residence permit (Article No. 17) under the sponsorship of the Embassy.

    I have decided to resign from my position but require legal advice on the following issues. Our embassy knows nothing about the law and also does not want to recognize it.

    1. As a locally recruited employee in Kuwait, is it correct that I follow Kuwait Labor Law No. 06/2010 and am entitled to “Service Indemnity”?

    2. If I am entitled to the indemnity and the embassy refuses to pay me, do I have the legal right to submit a complaint to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in Kuwait … and if the problem is not solved, can I file a legal case in the Kuwait courts? (Please note that no clause is mentioned in my contract about service indemnity or anything related to Kuwait Labor Law.)

    3. In November 2014, I was verbally informed by the embassy that I must pay a monthly tax to the Embassy Government because I have reached the maximum ceiling of my salary. They cut my salary from KD 620 to KD 500 for the last 4 months (November 2014 – March 2015).

    This month, April 2015, they paid me full salary without deducting tax. No reason was justified for the action verbally nor written and nobody knows why the Embassy deducted my salary and then paid back full salary.

    ■ Does the embassy have the right to tax my monthly salary especially since I receive no service/benefits from the embassy government

    ■ Do I have the right to request for a refund of the money for the past deducted months

    ■ Can I submit a complaint against the Embassy at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs or the courts

    Name withheld
    Answer: A lot of embassies forget that their employees, hired locally, are subject to the laws of the land i.e. in the country that they are based. While it’s true that the laws of the embassy’s country are enforced in the embassy and also that diplomats have immunity from prosecution it is also true that these embassies can’t violate the laws of the countries where they are housed.

    So, in your case you should not be taxed and if any amount has been deducted from your salary this must be refunded to you. Please remember, however, that you can’t file a case against the embassy because you can’t file a case against a government entity although you can file cases against individuals but then they are immune from prosecution. Having said that, please remember that the Ministry of Justice can, however, through Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs file a complaint against these embassies with their counterpart Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    The respective countries have then to offer suitable answers, for the violations committed, to the host government. In most cases, these diplomats face action in their own countries and can even be taken to court there. In your case, on a complaint the Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs can question the legality of the embassy’s actions — by even calling the ambassador or an embassy official to the ministry — and if it is not satisfied it can take up the case with the embassy’s government.

    So, in your case we would advice you to submit a complaint to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor or the Ministry of Justice which can ask Kuwait’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene and get you justice. Please remember that the embassies must respect the laws of the land and if they do not they can be questioned through the procedure mentioned above.

  • Drive in Kuwait on Visit Visa with American driver’s license

    I am a US citizen currently visiting my parents in Kuwait. I have come here on a visit visa. I have repeatedly inquired whether I can drive on my American driver’s license in Kuwait, to which I have been told that I am legally allowed to drive on the same as long as I am on a visit visa.

    However, with the new laws/rules, I would like to be sure if a valid US Driver’s License is considered as an International License? And if I am legally allowed to drive on the same. Your informed advice in this regard will be greatly appreciated.

    Name withheld
    Answer: No, you can’t drive in Kuwait unless you have an International Driving License because the ordinary American Driver’s License is not considered as one. So, you have to get an international license to drive in Kuwait. Please remember that you can use that license only as long as you are on a visit visa.

    Although the American Driver’s License allows you to drive in many countries (even though you still have to get an International Drivers Document, which is just a translation of your American license into 16 different languages), the same is not the case in Kuwait. So you have to get an international driver’s license.

    You can only apply for your international driving permit through the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the National Automobile Club (NAC). You will need: A completed IDP application: AAA application. NAC application. Avalid driver’s license issued by your state DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles). 2 photos (must be passport-sized). The backs of the photos must show your signature. Payment for the applicable fee. You must be at least 18 years old to apply for an international driving permit. You can apply for the above by mail in most cases, and you may even be able to apply while traveling abroad. Contact the AAA or NAC in your area for more details

  • Notice period salary

    I have been working for a company since 7-1/2 years and now I have resigned. I had given a 3- month notice and company accepted the resignation and relieved me in month’s time. Am I eligible to get the remaining 2 months notice period salary in this case from the employer? I am awaiting your advice in this aspect.

    Name withheld

    Answer: According to the Kuwait Labor Law, the 3-month notice period must not only be added to your service, but you must get all the salary for this period even if the company allows you to go earlier. In this case please refer to Article 44(d) of the Kuwait Labor Law which states as follows: “The employer may exempt the employee from work during the period of notification but shall count such period within the worker’s period of service. The employer shall pay the worker all his entitlements and remuneration for the period of notification”. So, you must be given the salary for the two months and if the company refuses to do so, you should file a complaint with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, through the Labor Office in your area.

  • Project visa transfer

    I have been working in a private construction company for last 12 years, came directly from India on a project visa. Now I got a good opportunity and the company has already given me the transfer letter.

    But the new company is unable to transfer the visa, as the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor has rejected the transfer letter which was submitted about 2 weeks ago.

    This was my first transfer from project to project visa under another contractor. I am very much worried and… is it possible to transfer my residence locally.

    Name withheld
    Answer: Because of the current very strict restrictions — imposed in January this year — on the transfer of government project visas you can currently only transfer to another government project and not to the private sector.

    As the government is not, at the moment, keen on relaxing the rules, the only option you have is to cancel your current residence, leave the country and return on a new visa. So try to find another company which has a government project and transfer to that firm.

  • Absconding case “Surrender yourself the law will be lenient “

    I just want to get some legal advice because my absconding case is at a dead end… it can’t be cancelled and I have found out that there is no other way for me to solve the problem, other than to wait for amnesty or surrender to the police and be deported.

    Okay I accept that now, and I am looking for an opportunity in Dubai, so if I surrender and am deported, will I be allowed to travel directly to Dubai or must I go back to my country of origin?

    Name withheld
    Answer: Unfortunately, the laws on absconding cases totally favor the sponsor, even if the employee is right…he will be punished because the sponsor has filed an absconding case against him. The only way out of this situation is an amnesty, although there are no signs of it so far on the horizon. If you are deported it will be to your country of origin and not to any other place.

    Please remember that once you surrender yourself the law will be lenient on you and “could” allow you to return after a year but if you are arrested and deported you will never be allowed to come back to Kuwait

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