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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Kuwait Law: Why Rupees?

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

So a lot of you have a read a few of my posts discussing different crimes under the Kuwaiti Penal Law and how the punishments were in Rupees. This caused quite a stir with a lot of people with many asking why the punishments were in Rupees instead of Kuwaiti Dinars. Some of the readers even claimed that those laws no longer applied because the punishments were in Rupees. Firstly that’s not true, the laws are still valid even though they are in Rupees. Secondly, below is an explanation on why Kuwait uses Rupees instead of Kuwaiti Dinars:

The History of the Use of Rupees in Kuwait
They were called the Arabian Gulf Rupees by the people that called our area the Arabian Gulf, and they were also called the Persian Rupees by the people that called our area the Persian Gulf. I decided that I am going to call them the Penal Law Rupees in this post.

The Penal Law Rupees were used in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and the Trucial States (now famously known as UAE or should I just say Dubai). They were printed by India and it was used in Kuwait from 1959-1961. You can still find them on eBay selling from a few hundred dollars and all the way up to a few thousand dollars (I am so totally going through my granddads closet today! http://www.ebay.com/bhp/india-gulf-rupee).

The laws that have rupees as punishments and their implications
The Penal Law was promulgated (published) in 1960 which is why the punishments were in Rupees since that was the currency of Kuwait at that time. The currency was changed to Kuwaiti Dinars in 1961 (thanks to our awesome Constitution) and a new law had to be promulgated to change the Rupees to dinars. But you know how things take time in Kuwait and it took a little bit longer than expected to get this sorted… around 24 years.

In 1985 law no. 9 was published “for the replacement of the rupees by the Kuwaiti Dinar wherever stated in the Laws”, and in Article 1 of the law it states that rupees shall be exchanged to 75 fils, wherever they are mentioned in Kuwaiti Law.

So this is why Kuwait uses Rupees in the Kuwait Penal Law. If you want to read more about the Rupees history check out my sources [Here] and [Here].

If anyone finds Rupees in their mums closet then please email us a photo.

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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Kuwait Law: Street Art and Abandoned Buildings

Posted by Fajer Ahmed

I am a big fan of street art and one of my favorite past times is to explore old Kuwaiti buildings looking for graffiti, taking photos and maybe collecting old bullets from the gulf war. But is it a crime to walk into old deserted buildings that the owner has neglected? Is it vandalism to tag those walls? Do the owners even know they are the owners?

I have to be honest, this topic is not something widely discussed in law school or at the office and I have never heard of a private law that discusses these matters, all I know of is the Kuwaiti Penal Law (yeah yeah yeah, the one with Rupees) include the rules for vandalism and trespassing. So let us look at the laws together:

1) Street Art or Vandalism?

First thing first, if you’re planning to tag a building you need to keep the following in mind. The building must not be a prayer place, a public office, a governmental building or a school building. The building should be abandoned with no one living in it or no one intending to fix it up to live in it (For example the amazing parking lot in old Salmiya and most of Failika island). I am also assuming your art is not just two circles with a pointy long oval in the middle.

If you want your canvas to be a new apartment complex or a mexican restaurant or a bookstore, then do what the amazing Monstariam does; get written consent from the owners first. Otherwise if the building has half a floor knocked off, no ceiling and 300 bullets have gone through it, then enjoy it. Just don’t be offensive please.

2) Exploring or Trespassing?

Article 254 and 255 both talk about entering buildings/trespassing owned by other people, but they also claim that the buildings should be in a possession of another person or inhabited by a person or is being prepared from someone to live in; and so the places that Mark (and I) have visited or intend to visit do not fall under those two articles.

PS: Does anyone have any creative ideas I could use with my collected bullets, please don’t tell me necklace.

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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