A report titled ‘New Name, Old System?’ released by Amnesty International which claims that Law No. 21 of 2015 does not provide sufficient protection to expat workers in Qatar has been fundamentally and outrightly rejected by the Government of Qatar.
“Qatar remains thoroughly committed to the establishment of a labour system, which is fair everyone; both the employer as well as the employee. The legislative changes are an ongoing effort to to systematically reform the labour system across the spectrum such that workers’ rights are protected. The Government will continue to review and adapt the laws of the country in order meet the requirements of the reform”, the Government Communications Office said in a statement yesterday.
Some of the concerns being raised by people have been addressed as follows:-
Question: Will workers be required to pay anything during the Exit Permit Grievances Committee process?
Answer: No, the appeal process will not cost anything to the worker or the employer.
Q: Will workers be required to attend the Exit Permit Grievances Committee during working hours only?
A: Workers will be duly given an appointment by the committee. Appointments with the Committee will also be available outside of normal working hours for the convenience of workers’ and to accommodate complaints.
Additionally, Metrash2 app will be available 24 hours a day which can be used to initiate the complaint process. Workers will be informed about the status of their requests via SMS. This service on Metrash2 will be activated in the coming days.
Q: Will workers be provided with free legal assistance and translation throughout the proceedings of the committee?
A: There is no need for any legal assistance during the committee proceedings. Translation services will be provided to the applicants as per their need. In case the request of a worker is denied, the worker can take recourse to legal proceedings at which time they may consider appointing representation as per their need. In case a worker is unable to afford legal representation, the court may provide an appointed legal representative for his/her assistance.
Q: What measures will be introduced to ensure that employers do not pressure or coerce workers into signing documents authorising them to keep their passport, and that employers return passports to workers on request?
A: The labour inspection regime includes direct contact with workers to ensure their grievances are adequately addressed. Adequate mechanisms have been put in place to alert the authorities in case mistreatment of a worker occurs, other measures include a 24/7 hotline and e-government services located throughout the country.
In case an employer is found to have confiscated the passport of a worker illegally they will face the stiffest penalties in the region, which includes a QR25,000 fine for each instance of passport confiscation.
Q: What happens to “absconding” charges filed against workers who have lodged labour complaints against their employer? Will this charge be disregarded until the case has been resolved by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs or Labour Courts?
A: No employer will be allowed to lodge an absconding charges after an employee has lodged a complaint with the Ministry of Administrative Development Labour, and Social Affairs or Labour Courts. In the case of a dispute between employer and employee, we urge employees to contact the Ministry or Court as soon as possible.