Building work is carried out in Doha's Katara Cultural Village
Building work is carried out in Doha’s Katara Cultural Village. Matthew Ashton / AMA via Getty Images

DOHA // Qatar said it expects “100 per cent compliance” from businesses by the end of 2016 on a labour reform introduced to ensure the country’s vast migrant workforce receive their salaries on time.

Government figures released on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Wage Protection System (WPS) show that 1.8 million – around 85 per cent – of Qatar’s 2.1 million workforce are now paid electronically.

But a senior labour ministry official said that all companies will sign up to the scheme by the end of December.

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“Our aim is to have 100 per cent compliance by the end of the year,” said Mohammed Ali Al Meer, the director of Qatar’s labour inspection department.

“We have a commitment from the [remaining] 15 per cent, we have contacted them.”

Qatar introduced the WPS on November 2 last year in an attempt to improve labour conditions following widespread international criticism of the country’s treatment of migrant workers.

Failure to pay salaries on time, especially for low-waged blue collar workers, was one of the biggest complaints voiced by rights groups against companies in Qatar.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Arabian Studies, “Portrait of Low-Income Migrants in Contemporary Qatar”, found that around a fifth of migrant workers were “sometimes, rarely or never” paid on time.

Under the WPS, company bosses who do not pay staff on time face fines of up to 6,000 Qatari riyals (Dh6,052) for every worker who did not receive their salary, and up to one month in jail.

Labour officials said 385 violations of companies still not paying workers on time had been recorded in the past 12 months, though it was unclear whether any company heads had been imprisoned.

Labour minister Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi said on Wednesday that the WPS had ensured “greater protections for workers”.

“The ministry is tough enough dealing with companies that don’t comply with the WPS system,” added Mr Al Meer.