Qatar is still committed to reforming its controversial sponsorship (kafala) system, but it remains unclear when those changes will actually be implemented, a senior government official has said.
Speaking at an event yesterday, Labor Minister Abdullah bin Saleh Al Khulaifi – who promised that reforms would be implemented “as quickly as possible” last July – told attendees at the Diplomatic Institute at the Foreign Ministry that there is no timetable to pass the new legislation.
The minister said the sponsorship law is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior and is being examined as part of the legislative process. With regards to the time frame of issuing the law, the minister said it is not possible to give a certain date. However, he added that Qatar is committed to introducing legal changes.
That message is a departure from the previous comments of other officials, who previously said changes were expected as early as late last year.
While that date has obviously passed, many have held out hope that the new legislation would be implemented by early 2015.
Even though there no substantial changes to Qatar’s kafala system have been made in the more than 10 months after reforms were first proposed, government officials frequently cite the planned legislative reforms as a way to deflect criticism of the country’s human rights record.
In a separate reform, Qatar’s Emir approved a law last month that makes it mandatory for employers to pay their workers by direct bank deposit. The change was introduced to make it easier for authorities to follow up on complaints by workers of late or non-payment of wages.
“We are on the right track to eliminate these violations,” Al Khulaifi said yesterday about abuses in the system.
The kafala system in Qatar and other Gulf countries governs the relationship between expats and their sponsors. It’s often blamed for enabling the abuse of foreign workers at the hands of their employers, who control an expat’s ability to live and work in Qatar.
Last May, officials from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs held a highly anticipated press conference to unveil proposals that would make it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs.
However, it stopped short of abolishing the system of exit permits and no-objection certificates.
A foreigner’s sponsor would still be able to apply to block an expat from leaving the country, and those who sign an open-ended contract would have to work in Qatar for five years before being able to freely change jobs.
Pushback from businesses
It is not clear what has stalled the legislation’s passage, though reluctance from the private sector may be playing a role.
In October, the proposed reforms appeared to clear a major hurdle after Qatar’s Chamber of Commerce said it would support the changes, provided that the law protects the interests of both workers and business owners.
Mohamed bin Ahmed Tawar Al Kuwari, the chamber’s vice-chairman, was quoted at the time as saying that he expected the reforms to be introduced by the end of 2014.
However, negotiations between the chamber and government officials appeared to stretch on into the new year.
In early January, the Peninsula reported that some business leaders were arguing for restrictions to be placed on engineers and senior employees working on mega-developments such as Msheireb, so that they could not change jobs midway through a project.
Speaking at a press conference last month, Human Rights Watch researcher Nick McGeehan suggested that the country’s “very influential business community” may be one reason for the delay in approving the reforms.
“Perhaps there has been an underestimation of the local opposition,” he told reporters.
He added that he sensed there was fear among some Qataris that changes to the sponsorship system could mean, for example, that their domestic workers would suddenly quit en masse or that the country’s economy would grind to a halt.
McGeehan suggested that the country’s leaders should have done a better job explaining the necessity and benefits of reforms.
“That message needs to come far more clearly from the top,” he said.
It will be reformed very soon, right after the settling of the villagio fire case, when my grandchildren have children who are my age now.
That’s like in the 22nd century right? 😛
The problem is people (journalists) and governments are too polite when local leaders suggest change is coming/has come to a system that willingly indentures people and prohibits their movement.
Gulf Times Postive Headline
After the purchase of Amnesty International and FIFA by Qatar Investment Authority both have been lavish in their praise of Qatar’s efforts in reforming the sponsorship system.
Ahmed Al Thani new CEO of Amnesty said, “we appreciate the great strides Qatar is making in sponsorship reform and I particilarly salute the Head of the Committee reviewing such proposals and look forward to their findings after much mulling’
When it was pointed out he was also the Head of that Committe as well as a leading figure at the Qatar Chamber of Commerce representing business interests, he replied that was purely a coincidence.
Citizens and residents came together yesterday to celebrate the current sponsorship system and look forward to more reviews in how Kafala can be enhanced to the benefit of all.
In other news 2000 more deaths on the road yesterday in the rain freed up more vital road space in a continuation of the Traffic Department’s new initative to help Land Cruiser owners everywhere.
You have too much time on your hands
He is gifted. It took him less than 10mn to write it. That’s shorter than you cigarette break. Are you jealous?
Look like most politicians he cannot be honest. Most Qataris do not want reform in fact some push for tighter restrictions. However they will not say that. They want to pretend to the world they are actually doing something so they can stall for as long as possible.
All you can do with people in power like that is laugh at them. They think they are clever but they are not.
Well summed up..
This guy would have realized later that he contradicted his own Emir’s statement to the British press. Oops, what do I do now??
Fast forward, he is busy having Kahwa in the meeting room. All of them are laughing at the gaffe this guy has made. The big man says ‘don’t worry’…I have stuffed things at the right places. We will unveil our kafala changes along with the world cup opening ceremony plans. BTW, do you want to head a new government department, Buddy??
All laugh and give extra petrol to their land cruisers.
Whew, busy day !!!!
No one could possibly argue that Qataris want reforms. If they wanted reforms they would be done by the end of the day.
Only because they’ve been told by their government that it would have a negative impact on their country. Most of the vocal support comes from high ranking corrupt officials rather than the Qatari population.
To be fair some do but they tend not to be the people that own business or are in the government. When slavery only really ended in the 1950s in Qatar they consider this fast progress
Slavery has ended in Qatar?
Late this year, Early next year, Mid this year, Late this year…………. to be continued..
No dates were announced. All dates cited here and elsewhere were speculation/expectations.
https://dohanews.co/official-qatars-kafala-amendments-made-year-end-2015/ . Yes no dates were announced but at least “year estimation” was given. DN! can you confirm that the link here refers to a speculation only?
The Shura Council and Qatar Chamber of commerce don’t create laws… A draft law was simply being discussed… “Mulled”.
The Ministry of Interior’s director of research and follow-up, Brig. Nasser Mohammed al Sayed is not in charge of creating laws.
“a senior official has warned that promised reforms to the kafala sponsorship system may not take place until next year.”… Exactly. May not take place until next year, said “a senior official” who was unnamed.
You really are full of crap.
Thanks, So are you….
You’re welcome. Not sure where you get the evidence for your puerile comeback though…
p.s. you don’t need a capital letter after a comma unless you’re using a proper name. Grammar, dear boy. Grammar…
Knowing who creates new laws is simple for me, I’ve worked there for 9 years (the council of ministers).
p.s. That capital letter was simply copied and pasted.
I don’t doubt that you know about the creation of new laws – that’s not what is in question here. What IS in question is the complete unwillingness of Qatari ministries to do as they say they will. Kafala reforms? Promised years ago – not delivered. Improvement to immigrant labourers’ conditions? Promised years ago – not delivered. Summer World Cup? Promised years ago – not delivered.
So yes, you and your compatriots are not only full of crap, you’re also inveterate liars.
Oh, and your admission that you copy and paste your responses – that’s just priceless. I’d have kept that to yourself if I were you..!
So 2022 minus 5 years is 2017…….December 2017 gets my vote for implementation
Let’s also be frank. There are additional comments that could be written about this issue in a free and open society. However, self-censorship is a well practiced virtue for citizens and residents alike.
Keeping on message doesn’t seem to be a strength of that lot, does it?
Mulling, mulling, mulling…
The real quest of hunger is when you are never sure when your next meals is going to be.
But comparing the scenario here Qatar really knows that the expats here are hunger for a change.But these gimmicks keep the discussions alive and never end the process.
The words Khafeel ,Khafala,Nafar are all integral part of the Arab Society which dates back to history.
A world without these words/concepts will be so tough for them same as a day with out dates and camel milk.
What’s the meaning of this word. kafala?
If it wasn’t so sad it would be laughable.
“In early January, the Peninsula reported that some business leaders were arguing for restrictions to be placed on engineers and senior employees working on mega-developments such as Msheireb, so that they could not change jobs midway through a project.”
Are they serious? Do they think they can prevent a high-profile engineer from switching jobs or even resigning? Do they want to treat engineers like labourers? If that is the case, why not also withhold the salary for few months to make sure they stay until they get fully paid? If these are the people who manage private companies in this country no wonder then why every business here is struggling without government support.
I’ll attempt to answer your questions:
1 – Yeah, they were serious. Workers are quitting from projects like Msheireb left, right and center. That’s what workers do – they follow the money.
2 – Yeah, sure, why not?
3 – Yeah, of course. A worker is a worker is a worker. Why should engineers be treated any differently than laborers. Why should laborers be treated with any less dignity than a Project Engineer?
4 – Some companies do this, in the form of a furniture allowance, and if you leave prior to a certain time, this amount is withheld from your salary. The loop hole is that it only impacts people who resign through the proper channels. People who go on leave and never come back miss out on their ESB, but they also don’t have their furniture allowance subtracted from their final settlement. It ends up creating the perverse incentive that people don’t just quit the company, they also quit the country.
5 – Not a question, but I’m in total agreement.
How do we now describe the statements made by The Emir to the British Prime Minister last month? He was misled? Badly informed? or were they simply……..I’ll let you fill in your own word. The fact is that the kafala will never be reformed because aside from the financial considerations of a free labour market it is simply in the Qatari DNA to exploit other humans. The kafala defines the Qatari, so DN spare us in future the fake breastbeating headlines asking why the Qatari are not loved. I’m so angry I now actually hope that WC2022 is a disaster.
Which statements? Any actual quotes of what he actually said? Any videos?
No of course not. The inner wasta circle protecting each other.
What about those workers who are lied to and upon arriving have no choice to work. If they give a proper notice as directed by the contract. Would they still have a 2 year ban ? If they contract is of an indefinite period ?
LOCAL THINKS ALL EXPATS ARE “MISKEEN” THEY DON’T WANT ANY THING TO CHANGE THERE WILL ONLY PLAY WITH LAW AND MAKE IN SUCH A WAY THAT IT LOOKS EVERY THING WILL CHANGE BUT IT WILL BE SAME ONLY RAPPER WILL BE CHANGED.
Hopefully snoop dog rather than emiemen
The Qatari government will do what is best for them.
Why should they do anything that is good for others?
On a basic level that is true. The government is for the citizens not the temporary residents.
I was in Qatar working for a contracting firm since 2007. In January 2014 got a job offer from a Qatar government entity and requested my company for NOC since I have sincerely worked in the company for seven years and also I was not going to join a rival company but to government side which will also be beneficial for the company. But like majority employers my company also denied NOC and instead offered a salary hike though not to the level of the new offer. I politely rejected the salary hike and gave my resignation. After holding me back for several months without giving exit permit, was finally able to leave Qatar by 2014 end and since January 2015 working in another GCC country.
Sponsorship law of not permitting for job change is used by companies just for their benefit which will not be beneficial for the country as a whole in the long run. The authorities will realize this only very late when the projects will be delayed by lack of finding the right skilled workforce which is also published in a report in the recent issue of a Middle East construction magazine.
You are absolutely correct. But in many cases, the withholding of an NOC is not due to the actual Sponsor policy, but due to HR or Management ‘policies’. Very short sighted indeed. On the other hand, we do see a lot of companies, mostly foreign owned, which freely give NOCs.
Haha, someone surprised by this statement? Guess not…
It’s almost as if they’re playing with expats the same game I play with my cats using a laser pointer :3
Exit permits and NOL are like 9/10ths of the system that generates 90% of the concerns.
Irrational fear and a proprietorial attitude to employees prevents business owners from seeing that a free and open labour market benefits all. Competition for skilled labour on one side and jobs on the other, will raise standards of both employees and employers which will have an overall beneficial effect on the economy.
‘Qatar is still committed to reforming its controversial sponsporship (kafala) system’ – the worst possible start to a news story: an outright lie.