About 70 percent of the exit-related complaints from expatriate workers since enforcement of the new residency law were resolved amicably by the Exit Permit Grievances Committee, the Ministry of Interior said yesterday.

The committee received a total 498 complaints since it started work on December 13 last year coinciding with enforcement of Law No 21 of 2015 regulating entry, exit and residency of expatriates. These complaints were received between December 20 and January 25.

The committee managed to settle 70 percent of the complaints amicably through communication with the employers, the ministry said.

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The Exit Permit Grievances Committee was established through a decision issued by The Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani and comprises representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs and the National Human Right Committee (NHRC).

The committee holds its meetings every Sunday and Wednesday and has held more than ten meetings so far, said Brigadier Salem Saqr Al Meraikhi, Director of Legal Affairs at the MoI, and Chairman of the committee.

The committee issued immediate permits to 20 applicants while 296 exit permits were issued in coordination with the employers.

Some 177 applications were transferred to other competent authorities.

They included 138 run-away cases, 22 cases accused of working with other employers, six were referred to the Department of Work Relations at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, 11 cases were transferred to NHRC.

The committee rejected five applications because there was a travel ban on the applicants or they were wanted by the Public Prosecution, Brig Al Meraikhi said.

He said most of the complaints were solved after communicating with the employers and restrictions on their exit were imposed by authorized individuals at the companies concerned.

The committee is based at the old premises of the Traffic Department in North Madinat Khalifa.

The committee was set up to facilitate exit of expatriate workers on annual leave or for good or emergency leave, said Al Meraikhi. The employer needs to notify the authority concerned at the Ministry of Interior through Methrash2 or Hukoomi that the employee is leaving for annual leave or other reasons.

The employee can file complaints to the committee if his employer stopped him from leaving the country and the committee would settle the complaint within three working days, said Al Meraikhi (pictured). Both parties can lodge a complaint against the decision of the committee to the Minister of Interior within 14 hours.

“The committee’s work is transparent. It listens to all parties, arguments and seek evidence and the committee has the right to consult or ask for documents from different ministries and government institutions needed to resolve the dispute,” said Al Meraikhi.

The exit permit being granted by the committee is for one time and not for multiple use, explained the official said earlier.

As per the law 21/2015, the expatriate worker should inform his employer about his intention to leave the country but if the worker is deprived of this right he/she can file a complaint with the committee but the worker needs to explain the reason that forced him to refer the case to the committee with the necessary proof.

Under the new law, there is a work contract governing the relations between the employer and the employee and it specifies the duration of annual leave, its timing, emergency leave, casual leave and sick leave per year.