02 Nov 2016 – 6:41
By Mohammed Osman / The Peninsula
More than 85 percent of expatriate workers – 1.8m – are now receiving their monthly salaries via bank transfer following the implementation of the Wage Protection System (WPS) a year ago, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs said yesterday.
The figures released by the Ministry indicate that more than 37,916 companies in Qatar are now fully compliant with WPS, which was implemented on November 2 last year.
“Throughout the world, some employers use cash payment to exploit low-income workers. Through the implementation of the WPS, Qatar has introduced a paper-trail that ensures greater transparency and protection for workers who are at risk of being cheated out of full financial compensation,” said the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs, H E Dr Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi, speaking on the occasion of the first anniversary of the WPS.
According to the figures for October released by the Ministry, over 1.8 million of Qatar’s 2.1 million workforce now receive their salaries via bank transfer. The Ministry said the remaining companies, which employ approximately 15 percent of Qatar’s workforce, have also committed to joining the WPS, and are currently in the process of meeting the requirements.
The Ministry emphasized that the number of uncovered workers is expected to drop in the coming months as the labour inspectors identify companies that continue to operate outside of the WPS.
All private sector employers in Qatar have been forced under the WPS to fully adhere to the rules and open bank accounts for their workers and transfer wages electronically.
The number of complaints made against employers in Qatar has dropped significantly, said the ministry, adding that between January and October last year, the total number of worker complaints received by the government stood at 3,845.
However, with the full enforcement of the WPS, complaints for the first half of this year decreased to 2,676 representing a 30.4 percent decline from the same period last year.
Since the introduction of the system, 385 violation notices were issued against companies enrolled into the WPS for failing to pay the salaries on time.
“We are pleased to announce the very positive impact that the recent government initiatives are having on protecting migrant workers in Qatar. We are clear that challenges remain for a minority of individuals in this country, but these figures demonstrate that we are working hard to solve these issues through ongoing reforms of Qatar’s labour laws and practices,” said the Minister.
WPS has granted new powers to the Qatari authorities to monitor wage payment, and ensure that migrant workers are being paid in full and on time, as stipulated in their contracts.
Article 45 of the Law No 14/2004 under which the WPS is implemented stipulated that violators face prison not less than one month and fine not less than QR2000 and not more than QR6000, or both.