Browsing 'recruitment' News

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Qatar’s labor ministry has named and shamed two local recruitment agencies that have been closed for flouting the rules on hiring overseas workers.

The companies, Al-Fadeela and Al-Wafa, have had their operating licenses permanently revoked, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor & Social Affairs (MADSLA) said on QNA.

According to the ministry, the agencies “violated the fourth paragraph of Article (14) of the Ministerial Decree No. (8) of 2005 regulating the conditions and procedures for licensing recruiting workers from abroad for others.”

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BunchandBrock Law

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The two firms were previously warned to adhere to the agreements they signed with employers to recruit domestic workers.

However, they refused to comply, the ministry said in a statement.

Anyone who did business with the companies should have their contracts checked with the labor ministry’s recruitment department.

And financial claims against the two agencies should be reported to the ministry within three months, the Peninsula added.

‘Name and shame’

Qatar’s labor ministry conducts periodic spot-checks on agencies to ensure they are complying with local laws.

With the approval of the minister, authorities can revoke licenses for firms that are serial offenders.

Back in mid-2014, the labor ministry said it would start naming and shaming recruitment firms that repeatedly flout the law.

However, this appears to be one of the first times it’s actually done this.

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Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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Last October, the ministry announced some 15 recruitment agencies had been shut down for failing to improve, despite repeated warnings.

The firms were not named. Their licenses were cancelled for reasons including multiple complaints filed against them, violation of the state’s labor law and failure to correct mistakes after being issued with an official warning, the ministry’s recruitment manager Fawaz Mohamed Nasser Al Rayes said at the time.

Meanwhile, last summer, a ministry official said that more than 800 companies in Qatar had been temporarily blacklisted and were banned from applying for government contracts or requesting warehouse units as punishment for breaching the labor law.

Such a ban is generally lifted once an offending company complies with the law.

Scrutiny intensifies

Recruitment firms in Qatar and those based in labor-sending countries have faced increased scrutiny in recent years, amid complaints about exorbitant fees charged to people who wish to work in Gulf countries.

While the labor law can be enforced to protect many of those workers being hired, domestic staff are exempt from this legislation.

Last week, a committee was set up to oversee the recruitment of household workers.

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The panel will include representatives from the labor ministry, Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Qatar Chamber, in addition to officials from manpower agencies.

It will be tasked with speeding up the recruitment process, cutting hiring costs and increasing the notice period for new recruits, the Qatar Tribune reported.

This was in response to calls locally from employers about rising recruitment costs and short notice periods, the newspaper said.

Thoughts?

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Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

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More than a dozen employment agencies in Qatar have reportedly been closed down by authorities for flouting the country’s labor law and failing to improve after being warned repeatedly.

Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) canceled the licenses for the 15 unnamed agencies after conducting spot-checks and routine investigations, the Peninsula reported.

Reasons for the termination of their licenses include multiple complaints filed against them, violating the state’s labor law and failing to correct mistakes after being issued with an official warning, the ministry’s recruitment manager Fawaz Mohamed Nasser Al Rayes said.

A team of six Qatari inspectors monitors the performance of the 282 manpower agencies operating in the country, which warns the firms if they are violating the terms of their licenses.

They are given 14 days to comply, otherwise the case against them is escalated to the ministry’s legal department. Cancellation of the license requires sign-off from the minister, Al Rayes added.

Crackdown

Recruitment firms in Qatar and those based in labor-sending countries have faced increased scrutiny in recent years, amid repeated complaints of charging exorbitant fees to people who wish to work in Gulf countries.

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According to Qatar’s labor law, it is illegal for recruitment companies “to receive from the worker any sums representing recruitment fees or expenses or any other costs.”

Additionally, “the recruitment of workers from abroad for others shall be made in accordance with a written contract between the licensed person and the employer in accordance with a model to be determined by a decision of the Minister.”

However, the practice still persists, and workers often arrive in Qatar already in debt by up to $5,000 after being coerced into paying the illegal fees.

MOLSA has taken some steps to try to address these issues.

Earlier this summer, a ministry official said that more than 800 companies in Qatar had been temporarily blacklisted and were banned from applying for government contracts or requesting warehouse units as punishment for breaching the labor law.

Although it did not give specific reasons as to how Law No. 14 of 2004 was flouted, violations included human rights-related issues as well as procedural ones, like not having a registered office for the company, the ministry official said.

The ban was expected to be lifted once they comply with the provisions of the law.

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In 2013, it closed down 10 agencies specializing in recruitment of domestic staff for illegal operations.

It also introduced an official ratings system for all employment firms, giving them grades A, B or C. More than half of those agencies hiring domestic employees were rated at the lowest level (C) last year.

Only 17 of 135 examined met the criteria necessary to get an “A” grade.

And last summer, it announced that agencies that are found to be breaking the law repeatedly face being publicly “named and shamed” in local newspapers.

The ministry wrote to all agencies warning them it would be operating a “three strikes” policy, namely if it received three complaints against a firm, the company would be publicly named in the local newspapers.

However, it didn’t give any timeline for when this procedure would start, and to date it does not appear to have happened.

Thoughts?

 Construction site in Doha

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Construction site in Doha

As many companies in Qatar seek to recruit more employees this year to help meet ambitious construction targets ahead of the 2022 World Cup, recruitment company Bayt.com has compiled a top 10 list of sought-after skills that new employees should have.

At the top of the list, which was recently published in Qatar Construction News, are good communication skills, with employers emphasizing that the ability to speak both Arabic and English is highly prized.

Second on the list are good interpersonal skills, followed by: leadership ability; technical skills; flexibility and multitasking; multicultural awareness; a willingness to learn; problem solving and creativity; and, at tenth, good negotiation skills.

The emphasis on people skills comes at a time when construction firms in Qatar have been urged to actively plan and manage project deliveries to avoid legal battles with their clients as World Cup deadlines loom.

Salary issues

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Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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On the flip side, companies will need to keep in mind that expanding their work forces and retaining staff will require spending money.

A study of salaries released in May by Bayt.com and market research agency YouGov found that 85 percent of Qatar respondents felt the cost of living in this country rose during 2014.

At the same time, more than a third (38 percent) said they did not get any increase in their salaries to compensate.

Of those who felt their daily costs had gone up last year, more than a quarter (27 percent) said their expenses had increased by more than 20 percent.

Higher rent, food and utility bills were the key reasons for the increased costs, respondents said.

Unhappiness with wage packages was also reflected in a survey released in April, which found that six out of 10 Qatar residents surveyed were actively looking to switch companies, with low salaries being the number one reason for searching for employment elsewhere.

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Careerealism.com

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According to the poll, which questioned 5,774 people from 13 countries in the region in March, Qatar employees were most likely to want to leave their current employers over low base salaries (67 percent), lack of career growth opportunities (63 percent) and lack of training opportunities (44 percent).

Although Qatar is the second-most popular Gulf country for expats to work in after the UAE, it has one of the region’s lowest retention rates, according to a recent report by online recruitment site GulfTalent.

The report, Employment and Salary Trends in the Gulf 2015, said this is likely due to Qatar’s kafala sponsorship law, which makes it difficult to change jobs, prompting many to leave the country to look for work elsewhere.

Figures from 2014 show that fewer than half (48 percent) of expats surveyed said they wanted to continue working here, compared to 88 percent of those working in the UAE and 61 percent in Kuwait. Only Oman had a worse rate than Qatar, with less than one-third (30 percent) stating they intended to remain in the country.

Thoughts?