Posted by Fajer Ahmed
Hey Fajer, I work for a private company in Kuwait and the company has my passport (and other employees) and refuses to keep it with us because they’re afraid we might leave the country. Do they have a right to keep our passports? I was told they don’t but I’m afraid if I make a big issue out of this then I might get fired.
So this question/answer is only for private company employees
Do employers have the right to keep an employees passport?
No, No and NOOOOO!
This is a very common question, at work and now from my readers on the blog.
Why is it illegal?
The Ministry resolution number 143/A/2010 says in (Article 1) “It is prohibited for private sector employers and oil sector employers to hold traveling documents of their employees”
Then (Article 2) mentions a punishment from the labor law for employers in the private sector who do not follow (Article 1). The punishment mentioned in (Article 141) from the labor law is as follows:
“In the event where the violator does not remedy the violation within the specified period, he shall be subject to a fine of not less than KD100 and not more than KD200 for each of the workers who are involved in the violation. In the event of recurrence within three years from the date of the final judgment, the punishment shall be doubled.” This means that your employer will get fined KD100-200 for keeping your passport.
Can you get fired?
No, No and NOOOOO!
You can not get fired except for reasons stated in the law which I won’t get into now but basically non of them is for telling your boss to be legal.
I want everyone to know the following for any labor law violations by your employers in the future:
- There is a hotline you can call (no one picked up when I called) 128
- There is a site where you can file a complaint (no one replied to me yet) http://www.mosal.gov.kw/
- There is also an NGO organized by Bibi Nasser called Social Work Society of Kuwait located in mishref www.q8sws.com Tel: 25375031 they might be able to help you with issues, even though most of their work is for domestic and construction workers
- According to the labor law, if you have a complaint against your employer, the Minstry of Labor and Social affairs will look into it before it gets to court and will try to resolve it
- If it does go to court, the court has exempted laborers from any court fees
- I sat with officials 2 weeks ago from the Minstry of Labor and Social Affairs for a research paper by John Hopkins about domestic workers in Kuwait and their rights. The officials I met with told me that an employee who’s passport is held by their employer can come in if he or she really needs to travel and get a paper from them that will allow the employee to travel
Fajer Ahmed – Legal Counsel
Have a Kuwait law related question? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.