Ambassador of Qatar Sheikh Saoud bin Abdurahman Al Thani has said Qatar has made great progress in reforming its labour law and promoting migrant workers’ rights.
The most significant development has been the dismantling of the “Kafala” system, with workers no longer required to obtain an exit permit to leave the country and are able to change jobs as they wish.
In March 2021, Qatar implemented a mandatory minimum wage, the first of its kind in the Middle East, providing additional financial security for every worker in Qatar and their families abroad.
He said on the health and safety front, the State of Qatar has raised the standards.
Outdoor work is banned during the hottest hours of the day in the summer and new technology has been introduced to keep workers cool when they are on site.
Modern accommodation has been built across the country for workers, and the scope of competences of labour inspectors has been extended to monitor working conditions and conditions of accommodation”.
The last quarter of 2020 saw more than 7,000 sentences pronounced, ranging from minor offences to more serious offences that carried heavy fines and prison sentences.
He explained that Qatar is constantly reviewing its laws to improve the conditions and rights of workers, while ensuring that the labour market is strengthened.
“Qatar has extended its agreement with the UN’s labour body, the International Labour Organization in Geneva, which in 2018 opened an office in Qatar to support our labour reform programme.”
The ambassador said Qatar has opened visa centres in the countries of origin of many workers including Pakistan, where workers can sign their contracts and undergo medical examinations prior to their departure, without having to repeat the process upon arrival in Qatar. All recruitment and related costs are borne by the employer.
Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman said “during the COVID-19 pandemic, our government has made funds available to companies for them to continue paying the salaries and rents of all workers.
The State of Qatar also has a system to ensure that salaries are paid in full and on time.
This system requires companies in Qatar to open bank accounts for their employees and transfer their salaries electronically.
Companies that violate this system are liable to a year’s imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 riyals, which is multiplied for each violation. If they are not paid, workers may also file a complaint against their employer.
These complaints he said are investigated by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs and, if an amicable solution cannot be found, the worker may take the case to a special disputes court, which will seek to resolve the problem within three weeks”.