Qatar is moving “fast and smooth” to reform its labor laws and kafala sponsorship system to create the best working conditions for its expat residents, the nation’s Minister of Labor and Social Affairs has said.
But the substance of those change has become murkier for some following recent remarks made by Dr. Abdullah Salih Mubarak Al-Khulaifi.
Speaking about the upcoming labor reforms, the minister commented that the no objection certificates (NOCs) that expats need to switch jobs here, and the exit permits required to leave the country, would be governed by an employee’s contract with his employer. Without an NOC, an expat cannot work in Qatar for two years.
According to states news agency QNA, Al-Khulaifi, who was addressing an international labor conference in Geneva this week, said:
“The procedures of repealing the sponsorship law No. 4 of 2009, which regulates the entry and exit and residence of expatriates are running fast and smooth, HE the Minister said.
He added that ‘After the completion of the legislative procedures needed to process the repeal, the relationship between the workers and employers will be regulated, particularly with regard to exit permits and no objection certificate (NOC), as they will be contract based.’ “
Last month, ministry officials pledged to “provide more protection to the expat community” by shifting authority to issue exit permits from sponsors to the Ministry of the Interior.
The change would put the onus on employers to argue why an individual should not be allowed to leave the country – objections that would be reviewed by a special committee.
Officials also said employees who sign a fixed-term contract would be free to transfer to a new employer at the end of their contract. Those who have an indefinite contract would be able to switch jobs after five years.
However, Al-Khulaifi’s remarks imply that employers would not in fact be compelled to require NOCs or exit permits, if the contracts they sign with their employees do not specify such terms.
MOLSA was not immediately available to clarify its position.
But on social media, some expats have expressed concerns that the government is backtracking on reforms that many have already said don’t go far enough to safeguard their rights.
@dohanews @JustHereQ whatever said in the reform announcement is totally different than what we are hearing now. No Change! NOC,ban is there
— Abhi Rian (@AbhiRian) June 5, 2014
Do you have more info on this one? http://t.co/f9XUtEa0YQ @dohanews
— Boby (@Boby_BiQ) June 5, 2014
@dohanews employers can simply add requirement for NOC and exit permit in contract! Meaning all will. #WindowDressing
— AS (@amadshk) June 5, 2014
@dohanews might only be good for people who already have contracts and refuse to sign these amendments
— AS (@amadshk) June 5, 2014
On the other hand, many Qatari business owners have protested the proposed reforms, citing concerns about the stability of the economy and workforce.
Al-Khulaifi also referenced new plans that are in the works to require companies to pay employees by direct deposit, in a bid to ensure on-time payment. He said:
“Based on these amendments, companies will be obliged to transfer workers’ salaries to their local bank accounts or to their accounts at their home countries,” he said.
Additionally, labor inspectors are expected to be given more authority to enforce accommodation standards and worksite safety, the minister said. He added that the number of inspectors has been increased from 150 to 200 over the past three months.
Finally, he said Qatar is working with the International Labor Organization to come up with a cooperation program on training inspectors to resolve labor disputes and adhere to occupational health and safety standards.
Sounds like they gave up the fight to convince the Fifa committee.. could mean something
They may know that the writing is on the wall for the WC.
So glad I never held my breath. Sounds like a few other things where a cow is promised but you end up with a horse and they wonder why people complain or distrust!
Are we talking about IKEA meatballs here, or is that a different cow/horse confusion??
Now you see it, now you don’t. I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume for now that there was some misunderstanding, surely they wouldn’t promise some reform only to say it’s optional…
Well we know what this has achieved if what he says is true. Western expats working for international companies will be able to negotate their contracts. Asians working for local companies will not and will be subject to the same rules as now.
Win, win for the Qatari Chamber of Commerce!
sounds about right, so the people who need protection the most as they are desperate and will sign anything, will get nothing
Worse than I can imagine….slavery still exists…this is all what they want
Is this the same guy that just banned teddy bears in nurseries? It’s all starting to make sense!
What about 10 Million QR Teddy bears in airports …are they banned?
On the exit visa this is essentially no different from the current system whereby your employer can give you a multiple exit visa. What a missed opportunity to boost morale and the country’s international image.
OK… Confused :S
Smoke and mirrors me thinks. Now you see it now you don’t. It’s like magic but no rabbit from the hat.
Of course there’s no rabbit. That poor rabbit would need an exit permit just to get out of the hat, and without it, it wouldn’t be allowed to perform any more magic for more than 2 years!
I think some people are really laughing hard about us expats……….it’s a big joke and we did not get it!
I was Informed that the new Legislation would let expats who have left Qatar will be able to return after a six month sabbatical to resume work with a new Employee, Obviously this is not the case, Can’t people just be more transparent this is not the way to go to impress FIFA OR AI,
Nothing’s changed… Walk the talk Qatar… It’s a shame you can’t even treat other nationalities equally… soon expats will leave this country and let’s see if they (Qataris) can do it on their own…
‘On the other hand, many Qatari business owners have protested the
proposed reforms, citing concerns about the stability of the economy and
I’ll translate this………’selfish, greedy business owners totally ingrained with a culture of expectancy and easy pickings at the cost of minimal effort expect the grossly unfair status quo to continue….’
One, the reason there are so many expats working in Qatar, is the local population is small and on government welfare. Two, to bring the grandiose plan for the future of Qatar it’s going to need more expats, no secret here, the changes announced a few weeks ago were a step in the right direction in working with labor to ensure a fair and balanced workforce and the flow of workers, the announcement today, just vilified the changes which were expected to take place.
By leaving exit visa’s and NOC letters in place Qatar clearly demonstrates they understand the dependance for expat workers. If Qatar were to drop the exit visa requirement along with the NOC letters Qataries would be compelled to provide suitable working conditions, compensation commensurate to the job performed as well as salaries paid on time. Or face a mass exit of expats, the very same work force Qatar is so deeply reliant on.
These facts along with Qatar’s unacknowledged fact the country would fail quickly without the expat work force blindly binds Qatar to maintain the status quo to promote and retain cheep labor in salvors conditions all with-in the richest country per capita in the World while providing lip service to an antiquated system developed to perpetrate a prison like system bent on first deseaving then enslaving people praying on many who are in dire need of meaningful work.
This adolescent approach must end. When Qatar matures to a point where Qatar realize holding employees as one would hold a slave is not necessary, when the expat employee is treated with the same level of dignity and respect demanded by the now slave holders of Qatar. Then and only then will expats seek to come to Qatar and Qataries will not have to fear the departure by those who have built Qatar. It is the expats who’s labor, management skills, technical knowledge and professionalism which Qatar is completely reliant on. Qatar’s wealth, growth and prosperity has been and continues to be built on the backs and lost lives of expats.
Qatar, it’s time to step up and become a true part of the civilized World. It is time for meaningful change, changes that are more that empty words.
There is a very real fear in government that they will loose control of the situation if concessions are made and the country will grind to a halt. As I said in a previous post, there is no way that the Qatari gov can allow sweeping changes to go through and still have any chance of finishing anything on time or within/close to budget. For entertainment value I would love to see unions allowed. The following months would be newsworthy every day. I have to admit that I have had great hopes for change in the country but the longer I stay here the more that hope fades. I hope that our Qatari friends on the forum can rekindle that light with an insight into whats happening.
the primary thing they have to do , take out the ban of 2 years as it is a threat to the future of one expat..
Perhaps Qatar might end up being surprised if they ban the exit permits and NOCs–that people stay voluntarily–just like in Dubai etc. Not needing to get an exit permit and not needing an NOC does not translates into–running away and job hopping! That does not happen in other countries! Needing an exit permit and an NOC lets people know that that county does not view them as fee human beings.
That being said–there are wonderful things in Qatar and also great challenges–just the same as in many other countries I have worked.
So instead of banning NOC’s and exit permits they will “leave it to the employer to decide”. They could have abolished them, but nevertheless, if one major employer breaks ranks and doesn’t include them in a contract then others may be forced to follow suit.
I’m not the least bit surprised! However, people need to learn to negotiate or go elsewhere. I’m sure by now our poor laborers, no matter where they’re from, are paying attention and know what their rights are so these recruiters don’t milk them for all they got before they even get on a plane to Qatar.
Otherwise, before Qatar knows it, everyone will be working on the WorldExpo 2020 in Dubai and no one to finish up the World Cup 2022 or National Vision 2030.
#JustSaying Qatar needs to keep an open mind if it wants to be taken seriously…