Study calls for deporting terminated expat workers – MoI readies plan to crack down on absconders

KUWAIT: Kuwait is studying a proposal to force a foreign worker to leave the country if he or she is sacked by their employer, according to sources, who explained that this step comes as the state mulls ways to cut its expatriate population.

Under the current law, a worker who loses his job has three months to find another one or leave the country. This condition allows expatriate workers to remain in Kuwait, hampering efforts to adjust the country’s demographic imbalance, according to a recent study presented to the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (SCPD).

In order to make the proposed condition applicable, a worker would only be entitled to his financial claims once he terminates his residency visa and leaves the country, the study suggests.

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declined to provide the source of this controversial study. They also did not clarify whether it includes workers in both the public and private sectors.

The study suggests that an expatriate worker is terminated because his employer no longer needs his services, and thus his stay in Kuwait “puts further pressure on public services” and becomes unfeasible. However, recent studies give different indications with regards to the labor market’s needs of foreign workers, particularly in the private sector.

According to the 2015 Labor Force Survey published by Kuwait’s Central Statistical Bureau (CSB) last month, almost 95 percent of employees in the private sector are foreigners, and it currently employs nearly 75 percent of expatriate workers in Kuwait (not including around 600,000 domestic helpers, who make up 17 percent of expatriate workers).

The same report points out that nearly 58 percent of unemployed Kuwaitis refuse to work in the private sector, preferring to wait until a public sector job becomes available.

This situation, coupled with the government’s inability to encourage more citizens to work within the private sector, continues to cast a shadow on the government’s ability to go ahead with its planned demographic structural strategies, through which Kuwait looks to cut down the expatriate population from 69 percent of the total population today to not more than 50 percent in the future.

The sources said that the SCPD will discuss the recent study and the possibility of integrating it as an “essential part in its policies to correct Kuwait’s demographic imbalance”.

This comes amid reports saying that local authorities have a ‘plan in place’ to solve a problem pertaining with nearly 53,000 domestic workers reported absconding.

According to the plan, Maj Gen Mazen Al-Jarrah, the Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Citizenship and Passports Affairs, will form a security team to carry out crackdowns on places suspected of harboring runaway maids, Al-Anbaa daily reported yesterday, quoting sources who added that ‘new laws to fight this problem’ are expected to be announced soon.

The same newspaper reported last week that authorities have stepped up deportations of expatriate workers this year, saying that police deported 14,400 expats in the first four months of the year, compared to 26,600 in the whole of 2015.

By A Saleh

This article was published on 30/04/2016