Qatar Says Labor Law Reforms Have “Transformed” Market | Human rights news

Qatar’s new minimum wage law, the latest in a series of recent labor reforms, comes into force.

Qatar’s recent labor law reforms have “transformed” the country’s labor market with the new non-discriminatory minimum wage providing additional financial security, the government of Qatar said.

Qatar’s new minimum wage law came into effect on Saturday, the latest in a series of reforms the country has implemented in recent years.

The new legislation ensures that all employees receive a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($ 275), as well as a minimum allowance of 300 riyals for food and 500 riyals for accommodation, unless their employer provides the necessary. of them.

Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers has been in the limelight since receiving the 2022 FIFA World Cup award in 2010.

Under Qatar’s “kafala”, or sponsorship, system, migrant workers had to obtain permission from their employer before changing jobs – a law that human rights activists said left workers employees dependent on the goodwill of their bosses, and often led to abuse and exploitation.

In August 2020, Qatar dropped a rule requiring employers’ consent to change jobs.

However, the migrant workers informed Al Jazeera of their struggle continues while trying to change jobs, the majority of those interviewed by Al Jazeera claiming to have experienced delays in the process as well as threats, harassment and exploitation from the sponsor, with some of the workers ending up in jail and ultimately expelled.

A Qatari government spokesperson told Al Jazeera in a statement that “in the last quarter of 2020 [when the laws were amended], the new system has contributed to over 78,000 successful job transfers ”.

“The most significant development was the dismantling of the ‘Kafala’ system, which contractually bound workers to their employer,” the statement said. “The impact of these reforms cannot be underestimated. They have transformed our labor market.

“On the health and safety front, we have introduced new measures and raised standards. Modern housing has been built across the country to improve the living conditions of thousands of workers, and the capacity of labor inspectors has been enhanced to monitor accommodation and working conditions, and the crackdown on violators which often leads to terms of imprisonment.

Qatar’s labor ministry has said it welcomes workers who file their complaints, but most workers Al Jazeera spoke to said they abstained for fear of repercussions – including cases of leaks – from their employers, after witnessing several examples of power imbalances.

“Most workers don’t have the knowledge or the support system to stand up to powerful employers and challenge these bogus accusations,” Vani Saraswathi, project manager at Migrant-Rights.Org, told Al Jazeera. “All of this serves to harass workers and discourage others from changing jobs.”

The government added, “We know that implementation and enforcement are essential for the reforms to be successful, and we also know that some companies will try to circumvent the changes, as they have done in the past. It is our duty to stop them.

“Each year, our labor inspectors perform thousands of inspections at workplaces and accommodation across the country. Violations of the law are recorded and penalties are pronounced by the courts. In the last quarter of 2020, more than 7,000 sentences were handed down, ranging from minor offenses to more serious offenses that resulted in heavy fines and jail terms. “

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