Cairo: While around 54,000 expatriates above 60 in Kuwait are desperately awaiting an end to a months-long ban on renewing of their work permits, they are also becoming the target of a wave of inspections at the workplace amid the standoff, a Kuwaiti newspaper has reported.
A disputed ban on renewing work permits for this category of expatriates who hold no university degree has been in effect in Kuwait for several months now, spelling trouble for them and their families.
Some companies this week terminated the service of its foreign employees above 60, Al Rai newspaper said, citing unidentified sources.
The employers told those expatriates that they had to fire them in an attempt to curb potential problems. The affected expatriates were also promised that they could be reinstated, depending on their companies’ needs, if an approval is officially issued, allowing them to have their work permits renewed, the sources added.
That said, the expatriates, targeted by the inspections, will face the problem of finding new sponsors, the sources noted.
A solution to the protracted dilemma awaits an official decision shifting the affiliation of the Public Authority of Manpower (PAM) to the Justice Ministry to enable the recently appointed Minister Jamal Al Jalwai authority to decide on the ban.
Mandatory health insurance
The minister may scrap this ban completely, approve renewal of expatriates’ work permits for an annual fee of KD500 along with mandatory health insurance or make do with the insurance only, the paper speculated.
Last October, the Kuwaiti Legal Advice and Legislation Department invalidated the ban on employing expatriates above 60, saying it had no legal basis.
The Cabinet-linked department said the ban had been issued by PAM director-general without authorisation.
At the time, a proposal was floated that those expatriates renew their work permits in return for a fee of KD500 per person and mandatory health insurance.
The PAM board later approved revocation of the ban and endorsed a new renewal system that has not come into effect, though.
The controversial ban, which went into effect earlier last year, triggered an outcry among rights activists, who argued that it affects thousands of expatriates and their families who long lived in Kuwait.
Around 4,013 such expatriates were forced out of the work market in Kuwait in the first six months of enforcing the ban, Al Qabas newspaper reported recently.
Critics also said the restriction has also harmed many employers and destabilised the labour market in Kuwait, robbing it of experienced workers.