An expatriate worker with mental health problems has apparently become stranded in Qatar after losing his job at the Ministry of Environment and racking up large amounts of debt, reports the Peninsula.
The newspaper quotes an article in the Arabic daily Al Sharq, which says that the man was receiving treatment for a mental illness when he was sent a termination letter by his employer.
The man’s mental illness began after a car accident, and he is currently receiving treatment at Hamad Hospital, reports the paper.
The former government employee, whose name and nationality were not identified, told Al Sharq that he had asked for official sick leave and provided medical certificates explaining his treatment, but to no avail.
The paper adds that he has been denied permission to change his employer, and due to a bank loan of QR130,000, he has also been denied an exit permit.
This means that he cannot find another job to pay off the loan, and he also can’t leave the country to find employment elsewhere.
“Now I am sitting idle at home. I appeal to the authorities to get me back to work or issue the no-objection letter so that I may transfer sponsorship to another company,” he says.
This man’s predicament is yet another example of the often uncomfortable results of the “kafala” sponsorship system in Qatar, which allows sponsors to issue a two-year ban on all employees leaving their service, and also gives them the control to deny exit permits to their employees.
There have been a number of high-profile cases of a similar nature in recent years, including the case of Nasser Beydoun, an Arab-American businessman who served as CEO of the Wataniya Restaurants group from 2007 to 2009.
Wataniya refused to grant him an exit permit as the company’s Qatari owners were suing Beydoun for $13 million, accusing him of mismanagement and overpaying himself. He eventually left Qatar after 22 months following a great deal of legal wrangling which is detailed on his website, Qatar Hostages.
There are signs that the government is considering relaxing Qatar’s sponsorship rules, however, with a Labor Ministry official saying earlier this year that the system may be replaced by simple contracts between employer and employee.
No further announcements have been made to indicate that a new law is actually being drawn up, however.
Credit: Photo by WFryer