Kuwait Law: Contractors

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

uscontractors

I decided to be a lawyer because I strongly believe that if more people have their rights and get justice, kuwait would be a better place. Even though I am not really helping much, I am still humble and grateful that I get a chance to post here and create some sort of awareness (thank you kindly Mark). I know my topics might be negative lately, but remember I get inspired to write by the cases I have and the emails I receive.

Some of the companies out there are MONSTERS (not the cute ones like monster inc but more like I don’t know I am not really into sci-fi) but seriously some companies are evil.

I have noticed in the past few years an increase in cases dealing with contractors. Contractors are brought to Kuwait from their home country and put to work doing various jobs for companies or entities that are from their home country. These contractors are told that because they work for their countries Army or Navy or whatever, then Kuwaiti Labor Law doesn’t apply to them but their countries law does. NOT TRUE YOU EVIL ******!

If you are working as a contractor for I don’t care who in Kuwait, it doesn’t matter if it’s for the King of Utopia or Queen Elizabeth. If you have a working permit and you are registered under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour then Kuwait Labour Law applies to you. So what does that mean?
You get paid overtime! I have noticed that some contractors have signed a contract that says they are willing to work 12 hours a day. Fortunately though, the law clearly states that the employee can not agree on something different than what the law states unless it’s beneficial for the employee (contractor). The law states maximum 8 hours, so unless you think working 12 hours a day without overtime is beneficial for you, you can ask for compensation for all your hard work. Also:

– The law also requires the sponsors to open a Kuwaiti bank account for contractors and transfer the contractors salary to the bank account. These sneaky companies pay the contractors in their bank accounts back home and deposit small amounts of money in a Kuwaiti bank account, making the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor believe that the contractor’s salary is a lot less than what they really make. Since compensation is based on salary, these contractors won’t be getting compensated fairly.

– Termination indemnity, yes you heard it right, contractors deserve termination indemnity in accordance to Kuwaiti Labor Law.

– Days off in accordance to Kuwaiti Labor Law.

– All other rights in accordance to Kuwaiti Labor Law (please read my labor law post for more information).

If you are a contractor and you are being mistreated and you want your rights, please let me know ask@fajerthelawyer (or any other legal questions). I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to announce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: We are all equal

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

rainbow

The fact I have to write this post is a disgrace! It’s embarrassing that as a lawyer I have to be preaching about essential human behavior instead of doing plain old legal work. People need to be more tolerant towards each other in Kuwait. I have hope that this attitude will change.

I always knew that being a lawyer wouldn’t be easy, the job requires you most of the time to deal with negative explosives. You know what they say, when the tough gets going, the tough gets a lawyer. I wasn’t expecting people to come to me with celebrations but everyday emails and emails flow into my inbox (and sometimes into my junk folder, I apologize) filled with words describing emotions, most of which is anger. Why? One word; inequality.

The Kuwaiti Constitution clearly states in Article 29 that we are all EQUAL
Article 29 [Equality, Human Dignity, Personal Liberty]
(1) All people are equal63 in human dignity and in public rights and duties before the law, without distinction to race, origin, language, or religion.
(2) Personal liberty is guaranteed.

None of us, none of you, no matter how rich or poor, fat or thin, tall or short, smart or dumb, want to be treated unfairly. Yet, in the emails, the employer isn’t respecting his employee, the parent isn’t tolerant of his gay child, house help are being tortured and turned into slaves, religious debates are nothing but aggressive personal attacks and expats are being told to f*** off.

Recently though I got an email from a homosexual young man. The way he is being treated by his environment is not acceptable so I decided to write about it in this post, not just for intolerant people in general in the hopes they will be more tolerant, but for all the homosexuals in Kuwait to understand that it is their choice.

Being homosexual is not illegal. Your thoughts are yours, no one can punish you for your identity. Who you prefer to be with is up to you. Now some acts, might be illegal, please check my two previous posts:

Kuwait Law: Sexual Crimes
Kuwait Law: Indecent Acts

And please before you go on to “accuse” me of being gay myself, if I was I would let you know, but I am into straight non-blonde tall men, from western (in it’s broad meaning) or/and south East Asian descent, preferably with a good sense of humor and an Irish accent! And yes I am a female (so please, I beg you please, stop emailing me with Dear Mr. Fajer)

Just remember, if it wasn’t for your employees your company wouldn’t function, if it wasn’t for your house help you wouldn’t have a clean home and a hot meal. Just remember, your son did not chose to be gay. Your religion doesn’t make you a good or bad person, your actions do and all religions are lovely in one way or another.

So be tolerant and be patient with each other, for your sake and for your communities’ sake. You never know when you will be sick and you will need that Jewish doctor, you will get into legal trouble and need that homosexual lawyer, or your child will need that atheist teacher.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: Labour Law Issues

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

contract

I have noticed in the past few weeks, two issues with employees that kept repeating themselves! So in order for this to be beneficial to others dealing with the similar situation I decided to post about them.

1) I submitted my resignation and it was accepted verbally, I was also told that I do not need to attend work for the rest of my notice period, therefore I didn’t. Now there is a case against me for absconding from work, what do I do?

First is first guys!
-Any communication with your company should be in writing. Even if you trust them they should understand why you would require it in writing.

– If you are emailing something to your company and you think you might need that email in the future to prove something (example your resignation letter or your acceptance to resign) and you are using a work email, email it to yourself. BCC your private email always with your personal matters, you never know when all your work emails will get deleted.

– If you attend a meeting and you end up discussing everything verbally, you can send the attendees an email after the meeting to have things documented. Name your email “Minutes of meeting” and write in it a recap of the meeting and what the attendees agreed on.

So those are the precautions but what do you when there is a case against you?
Get a lawyer! You need to at this point.

FYI: Your holiday can’t be deducted from your notice period, because they told you not to show up.

2) My company isn’t doing well, so I was laid off. They said they can’t give me my termination indemnity because they don’t have it. Do they have the right to withhold my indemnity because of bankruptcy?

No. I repeat NO. They are broke? Still the answer is no. They are going to court? Still the answer is no They are going up in flames because of a giant dragon? NO. You have the right to get your termination indemnity.

Got it? Ok? OKAY? Yeah? Good.

Feel free to email me ask@fajerthelawyer.com with any legal questions. I do not have the capacity to answer everyone for free (but I try), and I am happy to annanounce that I am currently working with a great team and therefore we are able to reply back to all emails with a reasonable time frame.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Censorship of books in Kuwait

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

books

One of my favorite things to do while growing up in Kuwait was going to the Kuwait International Book Fair. I loved walking through the aisles and aisles of mostly Arabic and some English books while having ice-cream. Since this year’s book fair is opening its doors today (Wednesday the 19th), I thought it would be fit to write about books in Kuwait.

Kuwait was the first Gulf country to hold a book fair with the first being held back in 1975. It was a platform for readers, writers, bookstore owners and publishers to connect with each other directly. Whats sad is that although other Gulf countries only recently started holding book fairs, they have already surpassed Kuwait’s book fairs with their activities and list of international writers and affiliates.

Yes people do read here even though the attention span of an average human being is probably 3 minutes thanks to social media but I am still a strong believer that anyone can get into a book if they chose a book based on their interest. With all of that said, censorship is an issue, its my issue, its your issue, its our issue! Working at q8bookstore with publishers, schools and writers has brought up the subject quite a bit, and although there may be some grounds on why censoring certain books is necessary when it comes to children, the books censored in Kuwait have often if not always not made sense in my humble opinion (I am trying to be diplomatic). Historical atlases of Kuwait and books with hocus pocus and three little pigs for example make it to the list of banned books in schools! Some of Orhan Pamuk, Haruki Murakami and motion picture books (which btw get played in the theaters) also are examples that make it to the list of banned books in bookstores!

Don’t we as citizens have freedom of speech? Shouldn’t we be able read and write what we want? The Kuwaiti constitution mentions in article 36 and 37 the freedom of research, right to publish, conduct research and so on (wont bore you here with tough legal words, that lawyers invented). But seriously who decides whats to be censored and how is it done legally? Well a lot of the information is not available to the general public but with dedicated work, Sout Al Kuwait; a non-profit organization that aims to protect personal freedoms and other constitutional rights have published a booklet on censorship in Kuwait. Here are some interesting points:

– For a local book to be sold in Kuwait it has to go through the Ministry of Information, if there is some doubt on the content of the book, it is transferred to a committee. The committee is supposed to meet once a week but according to Sout Alkuwait when they visited them in April of 2010, they had not met for 3 months and had 120 books pending (surprise, surprise)

– In the 2009 International Book Fair, 25% of the banned books were fiction (get ready for the sad part), 11% poetry and 10% scientific journals

– 24 social organization have signed a petition to review censorship in Kuwait, hopefully this time with avail

Although Mark and I will give you the freedom of speech to post as you wish under here (maybe we can have a religious debate, or lets talk about how mark isn’t Kuwaiti?), either way, I would love to hear about your thoughts and stories on censorship in Kuwait.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: How can I get a release from my company?

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

Hello everyone, although I haven’t posted here in a while, I have been reading your questions and emails. Over and over there is one question that is constantly being asked so I have decided to post the answer here, so you can all benefit.

“How can I get a release from my company?”

This question is not as simple as it seems, the answer depends on a few things (I am assuming you work in the private sector and Kuwait Labor Law 6/2010 applies to you):
1) If you have passed the 100 day probation period or not
2) The type of contract you have (specified or not specified)
3) Whether your employer was providing you with your rights as per Kuwait Labor Law

So therefore I tried to simplify the answer in a flow chart below:

chart

I really don’t like how some employers are keeping foreigners here against their will by using a specified contract, putting travel bans against them and doing other manipulative things. This isn’t a perception I have but stories I keep hearing EVERY SINGLE DAY! So my advice to you is, if you want to leave and they won’t let you go, email your boss with all the things they are doing that are against the law or your contract, for example withholding your passport, not paying you on time, not paying you over time, working more than 8 hours a day and so on (Read your rights here)

Also I would like to take some cases pro-bono with a help of lawyer friends, so please email you if you feel your employer is not being rightful!

As for company’s please read this link that has employee rights, you have no excuse to treat foreigners this way.

If you have any further questions please write them below, I will try to answer you here.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: Obtaining a commercial licence online

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

Local newspapers today are reporting that the Ministry of Commerce and Industries is working on providing a service for locals to apply/obtain commercial permits online. The Municipality, Fire Departments and Civil Services will all be connected online. It should be up and running early next year and it will take a lot less time and a lot less paper work to get things done. It’s a system that’s already in place in neighboring countries like UAE and Qatar. [Source]

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: SME’s and New Businesses in Kuwait

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

mayor

As a commercial lawyer and the owner of a small business (Q8BookStore) I was pleased to attend a discussion panel held last week by the British Embassy on small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Even though it was great to hear Mohammed H. Alsahya and the Mayor of London Speak about SME’s, I was actually more interested to hear Dr. Mohammed Alzuhair, the executive chairman for Kuwait’s SME fund.

Dr. Mohammed Alzuhair spoke about the government’s new vision for encouraging business in Kuwait. The government of Kuwait has really been trying to develop business in Kuwait for locals and foreigners alike and new important laws have been issued with practical changes, such as:

1) New companies law 79/2013 – Now we can have non-profit companies in Kuwait.

2) New commercial permit’s law 111/2013 – Apparently you can get a commercial permit by applying online. I’ll be investigating this soon.

3) SME fund law 98/2013 – A 1 billion Kuwaiti Dinars fund to support SME’s in Kuwait and rumor has it that their permits will be separate

4) Promotion of direct investments in Kuwait 116/2013 – Kuwait Foreign Investment Bureau is turning into an authority, all sectors will be open to foreign investors, and foreign investors will be allowed an equity share of up to 100%.

The laws are changing and I am excited to understand these changes. If you have an SME or you’re considering launching a start-up soon and want to get an email with related information, email me on sme@fajerthelawyer.com with the following info: your name, job position (at your SME and/or daytime job), type of business.

If you have more information about the above laws and would like to share changes also email me at sme@fajerthelawyer.com

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait Law: The Alcohol Post

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

Kuwait is one of the few countries in the world where alcohol is not available. The topic is also confusing with people having different assumptions on what is legal and what isn’t. We all know it is illegal to sell alcohol but is it illegal to buy? Are we allowed to have alcohol for personal consumption? Is it illegal to make?

Article 206 of Kuwait Penal Law no.16 promulgated in 1960 states:

206(a) – Any person who brings, imports or manufactures alcoholic or intoxicating beverages for the purpose of trading shall be panelized for a period not exceeding 10 years.

The article doesn’t mention anything about purchasing alcohol but what about if you bring or manufacture alcohol for personal use? The article clearly states that you are only punished if it is “for the purpose of trading”. Lets read Article 206(b)

206(b) – However, if the intention of bringing, importing or manufacturing is not trading or promotion, the person shall be penalized with a fine not exceeding KD100 and should he repeat this act the penalty shall be for a period not more than six months and/or a fine of not more than KD100.

So I guess the first time you get alcohol into Kuwait for personal use you are fined only but the next time you can go to jail and/or fined. The same applies for manufacturing alcohol for personal consumption.

206(d) – Any person who takes alcoholic or intoxicating beverages to a public place or to a place where he may be seen by others be it a public place or a private club, and any person who brings the alcoholic or intoxicating beverage to the said place for another person to consume shall be penalized for a period not exceeding 6 months and/or fined not more than KD50.

Any person who is found drunk will be punished the same.

So the law abstains from mentioning much about personal consumption of alcohol so therefore it is not a crime to drink inside your private space (house/apartment) just as long as you don’t step outside if you are drunk.

Please be careful and stay legal people.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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Kuwait laws you don’t need to know: Procedures for Pilgrims Returning to Kuwait

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

Its been a while since I have written about laws you don’t need to know (part of a series), this one is for everyone that just came back from Hajj. Decree No. 34 from the year 1960, Regarding the Health Control Procedures for Pilgrims Returning to Kuwait:

(Article 2) “every pilgrim must come to the health environment doctor, in the area where he resides, within 24 hours from the time of his arrival for a medical examination. He must then come 48 hours after the first examinations and a third time 48 hours after the second examinations”

(Article 4) “the public health department shall have the right to sterilize the pilgrims luggage, if necessary it shall also have the right to destroy it”

(Article 5) “all violators of this law shall be imprisoned for a period that shall not exceed 3 months and a fine that shall not exceed 300 hundred rupees”

I personally found a lot of interesting things about this law but the most impressive to me was how organized Kuwait was back in the day to consider the safety of the other people and to state something like biological tests (we’re talking 1960 here). I just find that fascinating.

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
Have a Kuwait law related question? Email me at ask@fajerthelawyer.com

The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.

Photo above from 1954 taken from [Here]


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Kuwait Law: Indecent Acts

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

A video of youngsters kissing in a car went viral yesterday and controversy followed. Information on the youngsters names, job positions and even stuff about their families started spreading between people. I am bitter, I think if you do see something that might harm a person’s reputation or get a person in legal trouble then DO NOT SHARE!

Lets look at Article 198 from the Kuwait Penal Law,

“Any person who makes an indecent sign or an act in a public place in such a manner that he is seen or is heard by whoever is in a public place, or he imitates the other sex in any form of forms, shall be punished with imprisonment for a period that shall not exceed one year and a fine that shall not exceed one thousands Dinars or by either of the penalties”

The Article is very vague and includes a variety of acts as crimes. Let us break it down:

1) “an indecent sign or an act in a public place” – this means anything from making out, to giving the middle finger, to writing a swear word, seriously who decides what is indecent?

2) “in such a manner that he is seen or is heard by whoever is in a public place” – so it doesn’t have to take place IN the public place as long as it could be seen/heard FROM a public place, so basically in your car, your office if the windows are open and your not private twitter account are all applicable.

3) “he/she imitates the other sex in any form of forms” – and who decides this too? Its 2013, products are turning unisex, seriously me and Mark have the same purple shorts.

What they did was not smart but let us just hope that they just get fined, and I quote Mark – “that’s excitement in Kuwait for ya”

Post by Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
Have a Kuwait law related question? Email me at ask@fajerthelawyer.com

The legal opinions expressed in this post are those of the author Fajer. Opinions expressed by Mark or any other writer on 248am.com are those of the individual’s and in no way reflect Fajer’s opinion.


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