Tribune News Network
The lowest-wage workers in Qatar are able to remit on average 81 percent of their wages home after Qatar introduced the minimum-wage law that helped raisethe wages of around 280,000 expatriate workers, according to a new ILO report.
The International Labour Organisation hailed Qatar's labour reforms in its 2022 annual report released on Tuesday. The report describes the key achievements and challenges of Qatar’s labour reforms and summarises the progress made through the technical cooperation programme between ILO and the Ministry of Labour since 2018.
"In just a few years, the Government of Qatar has undertaken comprehensive labour reforms to improve the conditions of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers in Qatar. In doing so, it adopted new legislation, introduced new or improved existing labour administration systems and enhanced labour relations," ILO said in the report.
The report noted that several new laws and regulations, adopted between 2018 and 2020, did away with the most problematic aspects of the kafala, a legal system of sponsorship that exists across the region.
The dismantling of the kafala system has facilitated a huge increase in labour mobility, with over 348,450 workers changing jobs between November 1, 2020, and August 31, 2022, the report said. In comparison, approximately 9,000 and 18,000 changed jobs in 2018 and 2019 respectively, according to the report.
Legislation adopted in 2018 and 2020 eliminated the requirement for migrant workers to obtain an exit permit from their employers in order to leave the country as well.
The report said Qatar is the first country in the region to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage that applies to all workers, of all nationalities, in all sectors, including domestic work.
Qatar's Minimum Wage Law came into force in March 2021 and established a minimum monthly basic wage of QR1,000 and stipulates that employers must provide decent accommodation and food, or monthly allowances of at least QR500 for housing and QR300 for food.
The report also noted that Qatar's Wage Protection System (WPS) helps reduce wage abuses and provides a clear paper trail that helps resolve wage disputes.
The WPS, introduced in 2015, obliges all employers in the private sector to transfer their employees’ wages through Qatari banks. These transfers are then monitored by the MOL.
According to the report, 94 percent of private companies in Qatar were registered in the WPS in 2020, up from 78 per cent in 2019 and 1.66 million of the 1.71 million eligible workers registered in the WPS.
The Ministry of Labour welcomed the report and stressed the continuation of technical cooperation with ILO and the implementation of upcoming programmes and activities.