Qatar has approved a draft law which would provide legal protection for tens of thousands of female domestic workers for the first time, according to state media.
The law is expected to specify how many hours staff such as nannies, drivers and gardeners should work per week, how many days holiday they receive annually and how they are paid, reported the Qatar News Agency (QNA).
Legislation has been agreed by the cabinet, said QNA in a statement posted on Wednesday.
“The law applies to sponsors and domestic helpers, specifies their rights and duties and regulates the relationship between them,” it added.
In a 2014 report, Amnesty International claimed there were some 84,000 women migrant domestic workers in Qatar, mostly from south and Southeast Asia. It alleged that many “face severe exploitation, including forced labour and physical and sexual violence”.
While the World Cup 2022 host — battered by international criticism of its human rights’ record — has announced several key reforms governing the rights of labourers who help build stadiums and infrastructure for football’s biggest tournament, domestic staff have not yet been protected by legislation.
Initial response to the draft law was positive.
Campaign group Migrant Rights said on social media that the reform was “very promising news”.
It also called on Qatar to include domestic staff in the Wage Protection System, a measure introduced in 2015 to ensure the country’s vast migrant labour workforce receive their salaries on time.
Amnesty’s deputy director of global issues, James Lynch, said it would be waiting to see the details of the proposed law.
“The Qatari government has been promising a law on domestic workers for years. Good that it’s back on the table — the content will be key,” he tweeted.