Forced labor

Attorney Fajer Ahmed

I love Kuwait. I love it unconditionally. Kuwait is one of the first spaces, places, concepts, communities, etc that I felt that I was a part of and that I belonged to. Kuwait is the place that I wake up every morning, aspiring to inspire its communities. I aspire to inspire the people to be just, fair and loving.
And because I love Kuwait and I feel that I belong to it, I want it to become the best that it can be. I believe that the community and the people can make it the best. So forced labor needs to be abolished, and Kuwaiti organizations (both governmental and non-governmental) are addressing the issue. With that said, I want to speak about it again. Thank you to my readers that continue to trust me and keep sharing their stories. Here are a few stories that were shared with me:

Change of job
Question: I have some questions for you. I am currently in Kuwait. I came through an oil company as a sales representative, but now the kafeel wants to use me as a mandoub (representative). But I don’t want the mandoub job.
(1) Does he have the right to force me to take the offer?
(2) He’s saying if I don’t take the offer, he may not renew my residency when it expires. If this happens, what steps can I take against him for my residency to be renewed?
Fajer: This is a major issue we need to speak about. Although the law in Kuwait under no circumstances allows an employer to treat an employee like this, many people that get away with it are getting away with it because they use control/power and leverage that. Your employer has no right to do this, but he is using the fact that you want to stay in Kuwait to his leverage, by stating he would not renew your visa if you do not work as a mandoub. You can complain at shuoon (Public Authority for Manpower), but keep in mind you might not be able to transfer your visa!

18 hours a day
Question: I am being forced to work 7 days a week, 18 hours a day, as a domestic worker. I understand as a domestic worker, I work inside a house, but I am wondering though do I really have to work this many hours?

Fajer: No, you should not be working this many hours. This is what the law states:

  • An hour-long break after five hours of work.
  • Not more than 12 hours of work a day.
  • A full day off every week.
  • The right to keep your passport.
  • The right to leave the house on your day off (should never be locked in).
  • The right to change jobs when your contract ends or to leave to work for another employer without paying a so-called ‘transfer fee’.
  • The right to receive your salary on time.

If you are a business owner, or if you own a home, please try to do the right thing – treat your employees right, and make sure that you are following the law. In fact, give them more than what the law grants them, because how you treat people around you, especially those that you have power over, defines the person you are. So be nice and kind, and respect everyone.

For questions or queries, please email us at [email protected].

By Attorney Fajer Ahmad

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