Food delivery companies in Qatar must provide their drivers with cars during peak heat hours, the ministry of labour announced on Thursday, following mass calls to protect workers using motorcycles.
In a document seen by Doha News, Qatar’s Ministry of Labour said although it comments measures taken by companies to reduce the risk of injury to workers, it found such moves “insufficient” for the scorching summer months.
“We inform you of the necessity to stop delivery workers (bikes) as of Friday 1 July 2022 during the period between 10:00 am to 3:30 pm,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ruling is to take effect between 1 June to 15 September every year, it added, delivery companies can continue to provide their services by use of “cars only” during this period.
“We thank you for your cooperation and concern for the health and safety of workers,” it added.
As per Qatari law, some workers are prohibited from working between 10am to 3:30pm between 1st June to 15 September to protect them from heat stress. However, delivery drivers appeared to be exempt from this until Friday’s announcement.
The decision comes amid heightened concerns for the fate of delivery drivers across Qatar who are made to carry out services on motorcycles during rising summer temperatures.
Last month, a Doha News report shed light on the growing issue, relaying messages from drivers suffering in the heat as well as customers who rallied on their behalf across social media platforms.
“Today we ordered lunch, and the poor driver was about to faint from the sun while asking us for water,” said one Twitter user, while others called for urgent action to provide an immediate solution.
In a social media poll posted mid June, 83% of participating Doha News readers said they did not think enough was being done to protect drivers from the heat.
Since then, leading delivery companies have heeded those calls, announcing measures to help protect their workers.
Talabat reassured customers that it provides “cooling vests” for its drivers, while local Qatari startup Snoonu noted it has established “chill spots” where workers can rest, cool down and get a refreshment for free.
This week, both companies confirmed they would only be deploying cars during peak hours, as per the new rulings. However, Snoonu extended the hours to 5pm.
However, while the new ruling targets companies, others continue to point towards the role of local restaurants in the ongoing issue.
All drivers who spoke to Doha News expressed that a common concern and issue is the lack of empathy from restaurants, many of which ask them to wait outside until the order is ready, even during the day.
“No humanity, the driver [is] also human, why [is] he not waiting inside? He’s also like [a] customer, he’s taking your order,” driver Muhammed told Doha News.
This violates the rule of the Ministry of Labour which requires restaurants to provide drivers with an air-conditioned, shaded waiting area and give them water to cool off, the source said.
Those who are not provided with adequate services should file a complaint to the ministry, the source added.
The issue also extends to customers themselves, with numerous drivers saying it is rare for them to receive tips.
“Customer they don’t tip, even if one riyal change, they wait for me to give to them. Once customer made me go to the supermarket to get two riyal change because I don’t have,” said Muhammed, who noted a little can go a long way.
For those who choose not to tip, or cannot afford to, the drivers say water could lessen the struggle.
“I just request, ma’am or sir, if you have some water, please give me some after delivery.”