Many working expats in Kuwait want to know what to do when they are dealing with work violations. Speaking to a lawyer although is an option, but sometimes it is either not necessary or too expensive. I strongly believe that every single employee should clearly know what their rights and obligations are and should know exactly what to do when such rights are violated.
My advice initially is always to try and negotiate things amicably. With that said, many employees make the mistake of not going to the shuoon because they are still negotiating. You can always go to shuoon and continue to negotiate – in fact, shuoon is a place for negotiations and that is the point of having employment tribunals.
Needing a lawyer
Question: I want to go to shuoon for an employment issue – do I really need a lawyer? Should I get a lawyer? And what should I keep in mind?
Fajer: Before I answer the questions, I want to explain what shuoon is. ‘Shuoon’ is the word for an authority under the ministry of social affairs and labor. It is the first stop for any legal issue concerning employment. For a case to go to court, a complaint needs to be filed at the shuoon first, where an investigator will try to mediate the situation and attempt to resolve the matter amicably for both the employee and the employer. If this does not work, an investigation takes place. Then the issue is transferred to court, and another lengthy process happens, where the issue is transferred from court to an expert and then back to court. Then there is a verdict (which can be appealed), and assuming the verdict is final, it needs to be executed. That is also a lengthy process. There is a shuoon in every governorate in Kuwait.
Do you need a lawyer for all of this? Although many people figure things out at shuoon without a lawyer, I suggest that if you can afford to get one, then do so. Employment cases are lengthy as explained above and therefore costly. How much do they cost? It really depends on what documents you have, what you are asking for and many other important factors. A lawyer who gives you a price without sitting with you to discuss the case would be lying to you. I have so many potential clients that call the firm asking “how much will it cost me?” I respond “I do not know – come in first for an initial consultation.” This bothers them, but I would be dishonest if I gave them a price, because I might not need to go to court. I would not suggest something to my clients unless it was necessary and although many call saying they want to go to court, it just might not be the best process for them.
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By Attorney Fajer Ahmed