Qatar has gone the extra mile to protect the rights of all categories of workers by approving a number of draft laws last week. The Cabinet has approved a draft law on the minimum wages, another to adopt regulations that facilitate the worker’s transfer from his current employer to another within the duration of the work contract in a way that protects the rights of both parties, and a third draft law to abolish exit permits for those not covered by the Labour Law, including domestic workers. The draft laws will be applicable immediately after the relevant legislative process.
The announcements by HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Yousef bin Mohamed al-Othman Fakhro came at the most appropriate occasion – the centenary celebration of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), with which Qatar has been collaborating very closely over the years to improve the work environment in the country. At the event, the minister recalled the various labour reforms introduced in the country as part of the technical support from the ILO office in Qatar. This includes amendments to the Labour Law and the expatriate residency law, abolishing exit permit for most workers, the Wage Protection System, the committees for resolving labour disputes, and a national fund for the support of workers’ rights.
Moussa Oumarou, Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships, ILO, who attended the ceremony, thanked Qatar for its great efforts and achievements in introducing various remarkable reforms to improve the conditions of labour and work in many areas and respects.
It was also last week that HE Hassan al-Thawadi, Secretary-General of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), described the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar as a ‘unique event’ which has a special opportunity to act as a catalyst for global workers’ rights reform and unifying people across the region. Speaking during the Global Security Forum in Doha, he highlighted the opportunity the tournament provides to deliver a social and economic legacy across the Middle East.
Discussing workers’ welfare within Qatar, and the wide-ranging reforms already implemented by the SC and its stakeholders, al-Thawadi said this was something the country can feel rightfully proud of, while also acknowledging there is still a lot of work to be done. He recalled one of the achievements, the reimbursement of illegal recruitment fees. The SC official highlighted the progress made in its commitment, in collaboration with local companies, to ensure more than QR100mn is paid back to 40,000 workers over the next three years.
Al-Thawadi also pointed out the work and research being carried out in collaboration with the ILO, the health checks, nutritional education, cooling suits and electronic medical record ID cards being delivered to workers across SC sites – and highlighted the progress made since winning the bid. However, he was keen to point out that more can always be done. “There is no nation in the world today that can claim they have addressed every aspect of worker welfare reform; and Qatar is no different,” he continued. “But I’m very proud of the reforms that are being delivered – by both the Supreme Committee and Qatar as a whole – as a result of the catalyst of the World Cup”.
As al-Thawadi pointed out, the labour market in Qatar is being reformed, and the country is definitely among the leaders in the region. He highlighted the need for reforms to be carried out not only hastily, but more importantly, effectively. In order for the impact to be long-lasting, the country must be allowed time to deliver on its promises. Going by what has been achieved so far, Qatar shall deliver on all the promises.
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