Common woes of expat workers in Maldives: Pt. 3

This is Part 3 of the 3-part series discussing the common issues that expat workers in Maldives face. Check out Part 1: Yellow Alert and Part 2: Orange Alert.

These issues are ringing all the alarms. Get out of there immediately or seek urgent assistance from Labor Ministry or your consulate.

1. No visa

Under no circumstances should you work without proper visa. You are risking your savings, your job, and above all, your life. The common cause for this is the employer's lack of foreign worker's quota.

For first time work visa holders, you will enter Maldives with only an Employment Approval. Your HR should submit your medical reports and documents to Immigration within 15 days of your arrival to get your Work Visa card. You can expect your WV card after 2 weeks to 1 month of submission.

If you noticed nobody is processing your documents since you arrived, contact your consulate as soon as possible.

2. Unauthorized salary reductions and non-compliance of contract

The typical misconduct committed under this issue is being paid MVR salary instead of USD unless clearly stated in the contract that you'll be receiving MVR. This is a problem because money couriers only accept USD. When you get paid in MVR, you need to find a place (usually from black market) that can give you a decent exchange rate. You can't convert your money to USD from banks here unlike anywhere else in the world. This means you will suffer loss in the exchange process. Below's a visual:

Salary as per contract
Salary received
USD Black Market Rate
Final Money on Hand after Conversion
700 USD
 10,794.00 MVR
15.90 MVR : 1 USD
                678.87 USD
Bank rate = 1 USD : 15.42 MVR

Another concern are the sudden deductions labeled as "employee deposit" or "visa fees". Employer passes on to employee the expenses they got for getting a foreign worker. This is totally against the Immigration policies! If this happens to you, tell your employer this is illegal. Report it to relevant authorities with a copy of your pay slip if you don't see any action from your employer.

3. Abusive employer

My blood boils every time I hear cases of abused expat workers. The stories range from workforce exploitation, verbal abuse, and even to sexual harassment.

I am beyond blessed to be part of my current company that practices a professional and friendly office culture. However, prior here, I had a few run-ins with my previous boss who is lewd towards girls and treats employees like robots. When called out, he made excuses of "trying to make the office a fun place" and "you don't have a family here so what's your excuse for not working?" I took my ass out of there real quick.

4. Illegal recruitment

Here's an article that sums up the ways to spot an illegal recruiter. If you are asked to enter Maldives under tourist visa (note: this is different from leaving the Ph as tourist), it means you don't have any guaranteed job waiting for you.

Before arriving, search for your country's expat community in Maldives and ask about the legitimacy of your job offer and recruiter. They would be happy to answer.

If, unluckily, you're already in Maldives when you realized you were scammed, head to your embassy / consulate with supporting documents to apprehend the illegal recruiter. They should also help you on your next steps, either job placement or repatriation.

5. Imprisonment or Deportation

There are only a few heard cases of expat workers being imprisoned in Maldives. The government will most likely deport and ban a delinquent foreigner unless there's an ongoing court case (in which your embassy/consulate should assist your defense). Maldives is too small; it doesn't have enough jail space for offenders.

The most common ground for deportation is getting involved in trade of prohibited items like liquor and pork. Expats who are also taking part in political activities can be deported. If proven guilty, your embassy's or consulate's hands are tied.  With that said, it's better to just follow the rules of your adoptive country.


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