Qatar announces new labour reforms for migrant workers

The country call this as a greatest labour reforms ever and is the first among the six GCC countries to have introduced this.

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Qatar has been subject to extreme criticism due to its inhuman treatment to the migrant workers especially those in the construction sector as the country gears for playing the host to 2022 soccer World Cup. The country is now trying to mend its ways to quash this condemnation.

On Sunday, Qatar introduced several reforms in labour laws. One of the biggest changes has been that foreign workers will now allowed to change jobs without the approval of the employers. This will apparently put an end to the Kafala system as per which employers can restrict foreign workers’ to take new jobs and maintain residency.

However, workers applying for new jobs will have to give prior notice to enjoy guaranteed benefits like end-of-service payments and travel to their home countries. For employees having worked for more than two years, the notice period will be for two months and for those who have worked for less than two years, the notice period will be one month.

The country has also set a new minimum salary for foreign workers which is 1,000 Qatari riyals (Rs 20,000) per month, in addition to accommodation and food payments worth 500 riyals (Rs 10,000) and 300 riyals (Rs 6000), respectively.

The country call this as a greatest labour reforms ever. And it’s also first among the six GCC countries to have introduced this.

However, the on ground reality can be dramatically different. The country has put an end to the law that permit employers to confiscate employee passports and has banned employment agencies from charging often exorbitant recruitment fees. However, several reports suggest that this is far from reality and the practices continue despite the law in place.

The labour reforms might bring in some ease to several migrant labourers from Indian subcontinent and South Asia, but the disparity between the super-rich Qatari citizens, white-collar Western expatriates, and those of the migrant labourers will continue.