Filipino employees should avoid signing second job contracts that reduce their salary or benefits, a labor official in Qatar has said.
This weekend, an official from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) advised nationals based here to report any incidents in which they are asked to sign substitute contracts, which usually force the employee to work for a lower salary or longer hours than initially agreed.
While the practice of substitute contracts is illegal in Qatar, it remains a problem particularly for lower income workers.
Often they are promised a particular salary and conditions in their home country, and then just before they leave, or once they arrive in Qatar, they are made to sign second contracts for less pay or even a totally different role.
“Any irregularity should also be reported immediately to us and to Qatar labor authorities,” labor attaché David Des Dicang told the Gulf Times.
POLO has been working with Qatar’s labor ministry to help affected workers recover what they are owed, the official added.
“We help them get what should be due to them, based on the original contract submitted by the companies to our office and which the workers signed back home,” Dicang added.
A report for Qatar Foundation published in 2014 found that many people who sign contracts in their home countries are then presented with new agreements once they arrive here.
These are often substitute, lower-grade contracts with less favorable payment terms and working hours. However, burdened with debt, many workers often have no choice but to accept their new positions and conditions.
This situation amounts to trafficking of people, debt bondage and forced labor, the report Migrant Labor Recruitment to Qatar stated.
POLO also assists employees who get paid late or whose passports are withheld by their employers – both of which are illegal practices in Qatar.
Dicang said some Filipinos complain anonymously about these problems for fear of reprisals from their bosses, the Gulf Times added.
In an attempt to rule out late or non-payment of salaries, authorities introduced a wage protection system, requiring all employers to pay their staff directly into bank accounts. This became mandatory last November.
Meanwhile, Filipino expats in Qatar have been encouraged to try to save more and plan ahead for once they leave the state.
Joseph Rivera, chairman of the Real Estate Executives in Qatar, urged nationals to put aside 50 percent of their monthly income for various savings initiatives, Qatar Tribune reported.
He also warned against getting involved in “get rich quick” schemes and property investments without checking out the credentials of the companies running them, adding that people should only buy property through developers accredited with reputable associations in the Philippines.