Updated on Feb. 19 with more details about the amended legislation
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s Emir, has approved an amendment to the national labor law involving the payment of workers through direct bank deposits.
At 8:40pm on Wednesday, Qatar News Agency posted the following bulletin:
Doha, February 18 (QNA) – HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani issued today Law No. (1) of the year 2015, amending some provisions of the Labour Act No. (14 ) of the year 2004.
The law is to be enforced and be published in the Official Gazette.(QNA)
No further details were released by QNA last night, prompting a flurry of speculation (and raised hopes) that the amendments involved changes to the kafala sponsorship system.
But local newspapers reported this morning that the legislation specifically involved the payment of workers in Qatar.
Under the new provisions, companies will be required to pay their employees through direct bank transfers, making it easier for expats and the government to scrutinize and document any late or non-existing payments.
Employees should be paid in Qatari currency once a month, or for some category of workers, every two weeks.
According to the full text of the amendments, which was published by Al Arab, firms will be given a six-month grace period to follow the new rules, which could be extended further by Qatar’s Minister for Labour and Social Affairs.
Once that period is over, employers in violation of the amendment could face jail time of up to one month and fines of QR2,000 to QR6,000.
Not being paid on time or at all by their employers are among the top complaints of workers in Qatar. Electronic salary transfers are one way the nation can tackle these abuses, and human rights’ organizations have been urging Qatar to adopt it.
Kafala changes pending
Bank salary transfers are part of a package of labor reforms that Qatar has been working to implement for the past several months.
Last May, authorities also pledged to make it easier for expats to change jobs and leave the country. Over the past nine months, those amendments to the labor law have been tied up in consultative meetings.
To the disappointment of some, the proposed changes stopped short of abolishing the much-criticized no objection certificate requirement to switch employers and exit permit system that regulates sponsored employees’ ability to exit Qatar.
While waiting for more information about yesterday’s announcement, several human rights advocates speculated that the only changes would involve mandating electronic salary transfers:
@jpmlynch that's correct as I understand it. Ministry of Interior reforms on kafala/exit visa still with shura council
— Nicholas McGeehan (@NcGeehan) February 18, 2015
Other reforms are expected to be introduced sometime this year, according to previous statements from officials.
so what’s the use then?! These are the only teo laws that expats care about 🙂
Timing , its all about timing guys .
The Question is ; is it to the benefit of the working force or a slight manipulation of the system ?
It has to be changed radically, but slowly, at a measured pace. We all want to see the Kafala system scrapped, but I honestly believe that to do so overnight would throw the country into chaos, at a time of massive change and huge spending on infrastructure.
We might not like it, but Sheikh Tamim has to put the interests of his own people first. That’s his job.
Excellent comment Mr. James. We have to realise that these sorts of things cannot be dealt with effectively in the absence of pragmatics.
There are some notable examples in history of fervently nationalistic leaders who put the interests of their nation first, but in accordance with their own concept of what those interests were. Not all of those concepts were universally approved.
True but perhaps speeding up the process would do good.. People are being harmed by the pace of decision making… Let’s not suger coat it… The situation of blue collar exoats can no longer be morally acceptable
Or as Abraham Lincoln said it “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.”
I think Lincoln’s statement was in the context of african slaves kidnapped, chained down in ships, auction in open markets and whipped to work for zero pay… Slight difference
Like Obama ancestors? :))
First distasteful … Second Obama’s grandparent were from Kenya who willing moved to the U.S. the other side of his family are of Irish decent
Yes but the key similarity is they couldn’t necessarily leave if they wanted to.
You are correct.This change at least helps close the late or no payment door that makes everything else much worse.NOC and not holding passports would be a great add.It would be nice to see a Govt agency that workers could report unfair treatment without worry as well.Of course not all hold passports.
That’s right..all aspects to be reviewed before bringing radical reforms. But when it comes it should be without any loopholes for businesses to evade the law.
I’m not sure what your definition of slow is, but for those of us who have lived here for many, many years, we have heard discussions about changes and amendments and alterations to the Labor law since the mid 2000s.
In the 15 years of Qatar pondering whether to do anything, other Gulf countries have made a series of incremental changes to their laws, and achieved quite a lot.
Qatar made open and bold promises about reforming the Labor Law in 2010 when it won the bid for 2022, and here we are in 2015 and this has been the first, small step towards honoring those promises.
I don’t think Qatar can be accused of acting too swiftly, but I question why the pace of change has been so glacial.
I do agree, the change is achingly slow, and I’d definitely like to see the Kafala system radically ammended. I’m just trying to see it from a Qatari point of view. If you’re a Qatari, here’s what you see:
1. Expat arrives at the airport
2. Spends 1-5 years complaining about Kafala and the heat.
3. Leaves forever and takes his/her money home.
That’s pretty much what happens, ( yes, some do stay for much longer) but I think if we’re all realistic… it happens a LOT. Very few people come here for the long term, so you can’t blame Qatari’s if they’re reluctant to change just because we say they should. They have to want it to change.
Let’s be a little more clear in your analysis of the relationship. Firstly, there is NO implied welcome to stay in the country after one’s productive working years. Secondly, you make it sound so callous when write about leaving forever and taking his/her money home. In fact, a significant amount of an expat’s salary remains in the country through rent, groceries, entertainment, transportation, clothing purchases…all of which goes back to service and product providers in Qatar!
Mr. james, 75% of Qatars expat population is poor labours. When you say a opinion dont just think of people who earn high salary and get all the previlages. If you ever get a chance, go to industrial areas and see the life of these people. And your comments are soo rude. No one is stealing the wealth of Qatar. These people get paid for their hard work. How many hours you work a day?. There are people who work here for 14 hours and get a salary of 700 riyals. Lets hope new laws to be made active soon.
Lene, please read again what I wrote, and then read what you wrote:
1. Rude? There’s nothing ‘rude’ in what I wrote. Maybe you don’t agree, but my comments are certainly not rude.
2. At no point have I accused anyone of ‘stealing Qatar’s wealth’. I simply stated a fact: people send their money home. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I do it too, but I’m simply trying to see things from both points of view, Qatari and Expat.
3. Yes, I’ve been to the Industrial area many times. Sat on the floor in a building with a bunch of guys down Street No.10 and drank Karak and talked about our lives and laughed.
I think you presume too much.
PS. When I’m in Qatar, I start work at 6:30 – 7:00, and generally get finished around 8 or 9. I’m self-employed, and I can count the days off I take in a year on two hands.
As I know, 10 to 15 talented resources planned to leave Qatar by March , if nothing happens..Inspite, they are needed for the Country very Well..
A good point, although I would suggest that the interests of Qatari nationals are so inextricably linked to non-nationals that in many ways the two are indivisible.
health….salary….job or housing condition….none matters…as who is ready to work can work no matter how…if company would like to last they have to provide all those facilities….only one thing which is inhumane (or against the human rights) is exit permit …..rest all does not matter…!!!!!
Maybe you could report to your readership how long it normally takes to have amendments ‘published in the Official Gazette’?
Patience…patience folks, it’s like counting chickens before they hatch. Let it be known (published) what changes are there before hopes running out of leaps and bounds. Now the need of guess work is out of scope.
For The Better. i hope!
Also HMC medical was very important for labours . they want to come early morning for medical and waiting 5 hrs to get medicine. ..if HMC emergency not take care of there persons deeply …..They need 24 hrs service all the cities. ..
There is a 24 hr emergency hospital in Doha, wakra, dukhan and Khor plus private hospitals… Which city are you referring to?
I think they might mean 24 hour all services – not just emergency
He says HMC emergency .. Can see how you sustain 24 hr clinic.. Who goes to an ENT clinic for a check up at 3 am
Anyone who can’t get an appointment at 3pm.
Never heard of something like this.
Ok fine .. Extending hrs is a good idea perhaps high traffic clinics can extended even further
Do I heard a broken record?
Nope, still mulling for other changes.
OMG ! still these people not giving full news on this much awaited issue….don’t know how many more months it would take to publish all this in the Gazette.
Don’t worry your NOC is in the post…
It is indeed a good decision made of approving the new labor law however, making it vague of the content is somehow pushing everybody to think if such is really a great decision. Whatever the effect of such is not a concern of the citizen or expats but the state who made this kafala system in existence for long years… Does it need the presence of FIFA before they finalize this?
I think this is what it will come down to, irregardless of FIFA or Qatar’s interests. International pressure on this issue is too insurmountable for Qatar to ignore if they wish to host the World Cup.
I doubt it’s any coincidence that this has happened only a few days after the 2022 Supreme Committee hosted a number of European delegates and boasted of their progress in improving the welfare of workers.
If it weren’t for 2022 I doubt very much that there would be any impetus for change.
I agree with you. I can’t think of any better leeway’s for positive changes to the foreign labor situation than the international pressure surrounding the World Cup.
We must reform the sponsorship law within the framework of a law that works for all. Freedom without responsibility leads to anarchy and this leads to all stakeholders loosing freedom. Freedom must not be sacrificed at the mosque of instability and these things require wise leadership, much thought and the mulling of freedom. If we rush freedom our children will lose their culture and religion and be swallowed by evil ideas of western imperialism. We do this for our children and yours. Don’t be the enemy of stability.
Was with you half way through the post thinkkng such a smart comment.. Then came the punch line … Set me up
Sorry I’m just losing the will to live some days. Life is but a game and we are just the players for now
18th Century Ideas ……………………………Try harder
Did you not get the sarcasm?
I guess not…..
“Evil ideas of Western imperialism” – is this how you call respect for human rights and dignity, democracy, and tolerance?
Us moderates must respect the extremists. Even extremists in their moderation have the right to be misunderstood. The evil ideas of western imperialism although dressed as moderate liberal ideas are in fact extremist to those Islamic extremists. If we fight extremism with extremism we will discover a moderate extremism that all humanity can live with. As long as the western extremists learn to cover their women and reduce freedom of speech to those things that do no provoke extremists to emulate western imperialistic extremism. Freedom for all without boundaries except where those boundaries cross our tolerance of what can be considered moderate.
You can thank me later (after translating maybe).
we are hoping also that our beloved sheikh will be implemented that after 6 months the people who exit in qatar can return back the people who did not give noc from there past employer.. instead of 2 years banned will be 6 months banned.. its goodnews for us about this new rules and if it will be implemented all workers will be happy so that they can choose another job again… Especially filipino workers.. : )))
is it logical to assume that everybody will leave their job once they scrap the Kafala? We have to remember that switching job is not dependent entirely on the abolishment of the Kafala but still heavily dependent on the job availability and the capacity of the employee to find a new job. in short, what is the point of no-kafala if there is no available job or u cant pass an interview? the only impact it will give the government is it will increase the number or visa transfers while decreasing the number or new visas. the numbers stay the same.
Logically thinking hmm , there are chances as soon as exit permit is remove % of blue & white collar workers will leave the country save their livelihood . Because all expats come here to earn their living hopes for a better life for their loved ones when that itself is not fulfilled better to look for another place which can fulfill it .
What if u already have an employer who would give you Better opportunities and/or better salary?
You are just stuck
Im also one of those expat that waiting for this ammendment. Unluckily, I have worst company I ever have. Delay salary, inhuman salary deduction, no specific computation, almost 12hrs of working, no proper uniforms, not even salary computation for both egyptian and none. Etc…..
Who manages your workplace like your boss if from where and his boss is from where
So employers can get an indefinite grace period and then fined 6000 QAR max …. bet they are really scared
This is disappointing ….And a long waiting for Doha Expatriates…. Most of the companies in Qatar still going with their monopoly over their staffs… Lets hope for the best….
Another 6 months grace period for companies to implement this simple law?..n only 6000 qr fine… private businesses are scared..
It certainly is good for the unfortunate labor force who more often than not are deprived of their basic right to be paid on time despite being the only faction of the human resource sector that are detrimental to the development process that Qatar is undergoing. Think that not a single property, infrastructure, or any other construction procurement would be possible without the pre-dominantly 100% expatriates labors. While this change is good for the labors, it definitely falls short of satisfying the basic needs of the other faction of expatriate human resources whom till date are not able to travel freely, change jobs without obtaining the necessary permission from their sponsors. The labor law will continue to be in favor of those few elites that run the country at the expense of the less fortunate expatriate majority. So if there is any lesson to be learned from the recent announcement is that changes to labor law are happening but will continue to take place at a much slower pace and will only tackle trivial issues but never the core represented by Kafala system. Good luck
This is getting pretty farcical. If people don’t have the right to leave the country by default and to change jobs they have nothing. They are stuck. They are indentured labour – i.e. modern day slavery. The disadvantages for the individual are obvious and the immorality of this situation even more so. It amazes me though that the powers that be don’t also see the economic disadvantages for the local economy. There is a saying that you get what you pay for. If people hate their job or have no other options they are not going to do a very good job. This is pretty obvious from the standard of service you get for many things in Doha and also from the quality of work done more generally – e.g. the shoddy construction. Additionally if you don’t allow people to move between jobs and can’t easily bring people into the country you significantly reduce the labour pool to choose from. People seem to be afraid of change but as far as i can tell you could pretty much could not have it worse apart from directing your employees at gunpoint. The sooner it is all changed the better – for the economy itself but more importantly for all those unfortunately on the receiving end of the ludicrousness of the current situation.
@Mahmood Iqbal: that’s correct as I understand it. Ministry of Interior reforms on kafala/exit visa still with shura council
wait til 2020…. hahaha since all been waiting quite awhile already why not wait additional five more years…
an apple tree cannot bear oranges… always remember that peeps…
Great job Sheikh Tamim. On the other note, I believe that people of Qatar are more interested to hear about KAFALA system change.
“Once that period is over, employers in violation of the amendment could face jail time of up to one month and fines of QR2,000 to QR6,000.” The way some private companies operate, some might prefer taking this petty punishment, than give timely monthly salary to a whole lot of poor workers….
Delay in gazette notification is understandable. But why further 6 month grace period for erring companies?
It would take at least 6 months for :
– the banks/banking system to support laborers opening bank accounts
– all of the laborers to open bank accounts
– for the bigger companies to find a way to send bulk salaries to thousands of employees.
The 6 months could probably be extended later this year….
These things were ignored for YEARS so I’m sorry, it is time to speed up and change the law. It should be very easy for the government as they perfectly know what should be changed instead of focusing on the World Cup of 2022, in 7 YEARS !!! They can be lucky for a decade but not forever, if the state of Qatar was not hiding anything or was not doing anything against the Human Rights then they wouldn’t block me on Facebook, on Instagram and other social networks just for sharing the truth or posting real pictures that myself I took in Doha.
To be continued…
Share the libk of your instagram account and the “photos” you supposedly took rather than wasting time.
Regardless of what many commenters say, this is definitely a good news, and a step in the right direction. My only worry is how this law will be enforced, since we know law enforcement here is fairly selective. Also, are banks ready for the influx of hundreds of thousands of new clients? Are they planning special branches for labourers? My only answer for now is: wait and see.
Exactly, I was thinking if banks will open new current accounts that are less than 4k monthly income. The increased pressure on banks will definitely affect the already not so good service standard, yet it may open the doors for new job opportunities in banking sector.
One step in the right direction. Definitely.
How many low paid workers even have bank accounts for this to be meaningful?
It just became a requirement.
Is there any provisions in place for forcing the banks take on these new low-income customers? The banks won’t make much money off of them, not sure if they are interested in having them as clients. Will they be forced to take them on? I don’t think I’ve read anything about this angle yet….
Probably only QNB will do it
That has nothing to do with the “Labour law”!!! That would be a directive to all banks from QCB.
and…..? Have all labourers now got a bank account and debit card and the knowledge to transfer funds overseas? Of course not. Will all labourers have a bank account and debit card in 12 months and the knowledge to transfer funds overseas? I highly doubt it. More bullshit gloss to appease and placate the international community, I suspect.
It’s simple: Companies will have to pay by using Qatar’s banking system.
Nothing about “debit cards”, “knowledge”, “transfer funds”, “overseas”…
This new system guarantees that wages were paid and fixes the actual date it happened. It doesn’t give all labourers PhDs in Global finances.
A little naive Osama, rolling out this kind of thing is never simple by its very nature, wherever it may be happening, and given Qatar’s history of real action not matching the self-promotion, I won’t hold my breath…….
Just a simple comment:
Kafala is part of Law no. 4 of 2009 Regarding Regulation of the Expatriates Entry, Departure, Residence and Sponsorship, not the Law No. 14 of 2004 on the promulgation of Labour Law amended by this new Law 1 of 2015…
This is a good point Osama – I think the issue is that given everything that’s been pledged, including promises to “abolish kafala” and replace it with “a system of employment contracts,” the assumption was the changes would become part of the labor law.
It wouldn’t make sense to do it in this law. Very different objectives. “a system of employment contracts,” would not allow somebody to live here.
Osama, you’re right, it would require amendments to a number of Laws, but one hopes that this would be part of the bigger picture of reform regarding labour in this country.
The steps currently are positive if small
The point is, if the Kafala system is scrapped all those people who provide individual sponsorships to expats will have to find alternative income streams.
Labor Immigration reform is part of the solution for creating a stronger, more successful Qatar which is a nation of immigrants, and welcoming immigrants reflects the key values on which this country is based: on . work, perseverance, taking on challenges, demonstrating individuality, and showing compassion. In addition, immigration reform is a bipartisan issue where everyone including the largest sections being Kerala,India can agree that a working immigration system contributes to a stronger region—economically, socially, and culturally. without uncertainty,
The facts make it clear that reform of Qatar labor immigration system can benefit everyone. We must ensure that we have a legal immigration system that works, which will make it far easier to enforce our laws, protect and provide the people and ideas the whole Arabian sea region need to thrive in the 21st century. when FIFA is strongly favoring the idea of pushing back the 2022 World Cup from the summer to the end of the year so that it can be held during Qatar’s cooler months,
6 months is so long a time given to the employers in Qatar. This issue need immediate effect before immigrants labourers die of starvation. Can you imagine most of the top companies are paying their labourers QR700 – QR800 basic salary at this present global economy. Thank you Your highness.
And that folks is that. A sudden lurch to bring salary payments into the mid 20th century. Don’t expect anything else because anything else would be a move towards a competitive labour market, and that is something that Qatar cannot afford to even contemplate until after WC2022.
Ah this reminds me of the times when I was given excuses back in 2004 – 2005 about the company not having money and the amount of jobs I quit. lol
Why 5 years old on process labour law changes are not approved?..”Told as over night change not possible”
The above laws came few months back..
Better Say “No change, instead of giving false hope to thousands of helpless employees”..
Qatar, if you want to improve, win the hearts of the people who labor and toil day and night for your development. Your own people dont care. You buy people from elsewhere to work for you, under you, to be tramped by you. SHOW THEM SOME RESPECT!! THEY DESERVE IT!! Look back at where you came from. Do not forget what you were.
Funny how things are when you are on the receiving end. Electronic wage payment? nada. Overtime pay? What overtime? Recipient of the 5 year contract? Im pondering ways how to get out of it fast, and the choices i have borders on bad to worst. NOC? Dang, the only reason i came here is to get an experience.Only to learn that my employer doesnt give one nor does he give COE. Ow well, shithappens… too bad i ended up with the short stick (just like 85% of the expat population )