Qatar enacts key worker reforms amid criticism

Agence France-Presse . Doha | Published: 01:03, Sep 01,2020


Qatar on Sunday introduced a $275 monthly minimum wage and simplified the process for changing employers, the labour ministry said, following criticism of its treatment of foreign labourers.

It comes a week after a stinging Human Rights Watch report highlighted the shortcomings of past efforts to improve conditions for the migrant labourers who make up almost 90 per cent of the population.

The new rules, which were announced last October 16 but have only now been signed into law, abolish the requirement that workers obtain a ‘no objection’ certificate from their employer to change jobs.

They require all workers, including domestic staff, be paid at least 1,000 riyals ($275) for a month of full-time work — equivalent to around $1.30 an hour.

Employers are also required to either provide bed and board, or an additional 800 riyal a month allowance for food and accommodation and will have six months to implement the new minimum wage.

Previously, the temporary minimum wage was set at 750 riyals ($206) a month.

‘The labour ministry has today taken a major step forward in its labour reform programme by introducing a non-discriminatory minimum wage and removing the no-objection certificate requirement,’ it said in a statement.

The ministry said the changes would ‘boost investment in the local economy and drive economic growth’.

‘Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to have a minimum wage for all workers without discrimination, whether domestic workers or private sector workers,’ Qatar’s assistant under-secretary for labour affairs, Mohammed Hassan al-Obaidly, said.

Rights groups have long said Qatar’s system — the same one used across the Gulf — of private companies rather than the state sponsoring individual workers fuels abuses.

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