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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Labor market reform and protecting migrant workers in the State of Qatar



Wazzup Pilipinas!


The law on uniform minimum wages, housing and food allowances will come into effect on March 20, 2021

The State of Qatar is so far the only one in the region that applies the law.

Introduction:

The rapid development of infrastructure and economic growth in Qatar has attracted hundreds of thousands of expatriatesand immigrant workers who seek to improve their living conditions and lives of their families. The State of Qatar is currently providing nearly two million job opportunities. One of the first priorities of The State of Qatar is to secure a decent life for expatriate workers, therefore the government is committed to reforming labor laws and all practices related to it in order to achieve a system appropriate to the needs of both workers and employers.



Appreciation & commitments:

And based on the moral and human values believes in, The State of Qatar appreciated the important role of expatriate workers in supporting the economic development in the country, and committed - to provide a fair and effective work system that provides protection for all workers, and based on that The State of Qatar has undertaken many reforms in the labor market,



Historic Step:

In a historic step, The State of Qatar the pioneer in this field, has introduced major changes to the labor market, and also became the first country in the region to adopt a unified minimum wage, the step was praised by the International Labor Organization and other labor institutions>



Workers’ Free Movement & Abolition of “Kafala”:

after the adoption of Law No. 19 of 2020 on August 30 2020, migrant workers can now change their jobs before the end of their contracts without the need to obtain a no-objection certificate from the previous employer, and in addition to canceling the exit visa, the law effectively abolishes the sponsorship system “Kafala” and marks the beginning of a new era for the Qatari labor market.



Minimum Wage & Allowances of Food and Accommodation:

Established a basic minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($ 274) that applies to all workers, regardless of nationality or sector, to replace the temporary basic minimum wage of 750 riyals ($ 205). Under the new legislation, if the employer does not provide food or accommodation, he must provide allowances of 300 riyals ($ 82) for food and 500 riyals ($ 137) for accommodation, with a total of a minimum of 1,800 riyals ($ 494)



Protection from Exploitation:

The State of Qatar has worked to protect workers from exposure to exploitation by setting up a wage protection system, which seeks to end the culture of paying salaries in cash, which exposes the expatriate workforce to the risk of exploitation around the world. In addition, the new system enables Qatari authorities to monitor the payment of wages, and to ensure that migrant workers receive their full salaries on time without delay as stipulated in their contracts.

The State of Qatar is never complacent in enforcing labor laws and is committed to holding accountable employers who abide by the laws. Qatar also introduced amendments to the Labor Law, imposing stricter penalties on employers who do not pay their workers' wages, and increasing the number of labor dispute settlement committees, to give workers an easier and faster way to pursue their grievances against employers.

Establishing workers insurance and support fund aimed at disbursing financial dues to workers as approved by the Labor Dispute Settlement Committee, in the case of the company’s bankruptcy and inability to pay their dues.

Enhancing economic development efforts:

• According to one of the objectives of Qatar National Vision 2030, which is to attract workers, take care of their rights and ensure their safety, the new law will enhance economic development efforts and open horizons for investors, employers and employees alike, thus increasing competition in the labor market in The State of Qatar by permitting employees to change employers, and allow employers to attract the best skills in the local market, employees will be able to search for new job opportunities in The State of Qatar and boost the economy through local and international companies.

• Employees will be able to terminate their contracts by submitting a written notice of at least one month in case they have worked for the employer for two years, or more.

• Employees may be placed under probation for a period to be agreed upon with the employer, provided that the probationary period does not exceed six months from the date of their work commencement.

• In case that employees had the access to sensitive information, the employer may stipulate in the employment contract that the worker, after the end of the contract, not compete with him in any competing project in the same economic sector for at least one year from the termination of the contract.



Administrative decisions, to ensure the quality of implementation:

• On January 16, 2020, Interior Minister Decision No. 95 of 2019 was issued, which revokes exit permits for all expatriates who are not subject to Qatar's labor law.

• The State of Qatar has employed inspectors “males & females” who speak several languages and have specialized skills in labor inspection. The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs has provided the latest technologies for labor inspectors, including GPS systems, allowing them to submit reports online and in the due time.



Complaints Hotline:

• In order to facilitate the complaints system for expatriate workers, • The State of Qatar has worked to provide and increase the means available for reporting complaints against employers. A hotline has been established throughout the day, seven days a week, so that workers can communicate through it to submit complaints, and the state has provided 11 self-service complaints machines (operating in 11 languages) in the Labor Relations Department of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs located in 11 regions in the country. Through these devices, the worker can file a complaint against the employer without disclosing his/her name.



Free Quality Healthcare:

• The State of Qatar provides free health care for expatriate workers, distributes masks, vaccinations and free treatment in the event of infection with Covid 19, and allocates a hotline to answer all questions about the Corona virus in several languages, and publishes videos that include tips for preventing the virus in several languages.



Organizing World Cup:

• After The State of Qatar won the organization of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the Supreme Committee for Projects continues to develop and improve standards related to the welfare of workers. The Workers’ Welfare Unit’s responsibility has been expanded to include services associated with hosting major global and regional events.

Electronic medical records:

• Medical records for workers were launched in an initiative that is the first of its kind for workers in Qatar, which is to allocate a medical record to every worker that doctors can view, and to provide health services, including examinations and treatment, according to the diagnosis.

Nutrition program:

• A nutrition program, the first of its kind, was implemented to improve workers' nutritional habits and raise their awareness of the importance of maintaining their health.

Mental health:

• The Supreme Committee in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Hamad Medical Corporation to provide mental health care to workers, and to allocate clinics for them. So far, more than 4,000 workers have been examined.

Study of heat stress:

• The Supreme Committee in coordination with the International Labor Organization and the Ministry of Administrative Development to study the effect of heat stress on workers in Qatar, by providing cooling technologies such as jackets and masks, specially designed for that purpose.



Qatar is the favorite for Filipinos:

Preferred to stay in Qatar despite the Pandemic:

As witness to that, what was published in the press last Oct 2020 , “The Embassy of the Philippines in Qatar halted repatriation efforts as more Filipino expatriate workers are choosing to stay and work in Qatar despite the epidemic. Philippine Ambassador to Qatar Alan Tambayan said the embassy had been unable to fill the required seats on the last three charter flights it arranged to bring workers back abroad. We have suspended registration via the Internet, he added, ,and in the last three flights, we failed to fill 354 seats”

It is important to mention that, The State of Qatar is now hosting almost 300 thousand Filipino worker.

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