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Foreign recruitment set to begin on April 1 – Ministry finalizes regulations to regulate labor market
March 17, 2014, 11:51 pm
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Local companies can start recruiting foreign workers on April 1 based on new regulations that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor recently finalized. The new instructions, meant to regulate the labor market, fight illegal hiring and ensure that employers adhere to labor laws, allow employers to hire workers freely compared to the past when a specific list of professions were exempt from a ban on issuing work permits to foreign workers.
 
However, the new regulations make sure that a worker is recruited for a job that matches his or her field of specialty, through academic qualifications and prior work experience. Moreover, a medical examination and clean criminal record from the country of origin are still required to obtain a work visa.
 
With regards to transferring commercial visas to work permits, a process that was stopped in February, the new regulations stipulate that permission can only be given to businessmen and investors ‘who execute investment or commercial projects in Kuwait’.
 
While private companies will have freedom to recruit labor forces that they need, the new regulations include measures to ensure that firms do not hire workers they don’t need or employ staff illegally. For example, if a worker is caught working for an employer other than his original one, then the license of his original employer will be suspended and he will be banned along with his first degree relatives from obtaining a new license for 5 years. This measure will help fight visa trafficking which happens when employers fail to provide workers with actual jobs, thus leaving the workers to look for work somewhere else.
 
Before recruiting labor forces, a company needs to meet conditions of having openings in its file at the ministry’s database, having a record clear of labor-related violations, depositing monthly salaries in staff bank accounts regularly and recruiting the required percentage of Kuwaiti manpower. A work permit will only be issued after a 90-day probation period.
 
More details about the new regulations should become clear when recruitment opens officially at the beginning of next month, such as a requirement to pass job tests proposed in earlier reports to curb the access of unskilled workers into Kuwait.
 
Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih had also stated earlier that the ministry is studying a system of quotas for the expatriate community in Kuwait, which will organize the entry of foreign labor forces. This system is not expected to be enforced until after the establishment of the Labor Public Authority later this year to replace the flawed sponsorship or ‘kafala’ system in handling expatriates’ affairs.
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