Kuwait is a beautiful country with a diverse society and is a place of great opportunity. In fact, Kuwait currently holds, for the third year in a row, the UN title of Global Humanitarian Center and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has been rightfully referred to internationally as a Humanitarian Leader. Therefore, it is really confusing to hear that there is a ban on Filipino nationals to come and work in Kuwait in the future, because of what seems to be incidents of human rights violations. With that said, there is no denying that there have been unfortunate incidents in the past. Some that I have worked with personally were of people from different nationalities who were mistreated.
But as a lawyer, you understand that law violations happen in every country. Also as a lawyer in Kuwait, I understand how supportive the government has been in the last decade and how much change and effort has been made in order to keep everyone safe, for example: 1) The laws have changed for the best. 2) The government has set up shelters for those who are being mistreated to go to. 3) There have been governmental departments set up for help. 4) Awareness campaigns. 5) Legal aid has been provided by non-profit organizations supported by the government, and the list goes on.
Filipino nationals are an integral part of our society in Kuwait. I cannot imagine a Kuwait without them, and although the Philippines has every right to protect its citizens in Kuwait and abroad, it is very sad to see many of them leave. I have received many questions over the past week regarding the situation, and therefore today’s column is dedicated to answering them.
Cannot come back
Question: Some of my employees have left for holiday to the Philippines and they want to come back now, but they cannot? Is this not a breach of the contract?
Fajer: This situation is what we would call under law a force majeure event – an act that is beyond the parties’ control. A force majeure is usually included in the contract and allows the parties to suspend or terminate the performance of their obligations should that performance be impossible or impractical, and since employers cannot physically come back to fulfill their obligations under their employment contract, then they are not in breach here.
Question: I have Filipino employees and I want to know what happens if they leave. My company depends on them, and my understanding of Kuwaiti law is that I am supposed to receive a three-month notice? What happens if they decide to leave tomorrow?
Fajer: From my understanding, that there are no regulations that force Filipino nationals to leave Kuwait. They only have that option should they feel that they are in danger. From a legal point of view for private employees under an open-ended contract, they are supposed to submit a three-month notice. But if they have been mistreated or if the employer commits legal violations, such as keeping the employees’ passport or not paying them overtime, then the employees have the right to leave without providing a three-month notice. As for those who are not under any violations and want to leave now and therefore are not providing their employer with a three-month notice, under the Kuwaiti labor law, they should compensate their employers with a three-month salary.
I hope the above helped. If you have a concern, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Attorney Fajer Ahmed