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86 percent of employee passports still retained by employers

Majority of employers continue to retain passports of migrant workers, reveals a survey conducted by the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) of Qatar University.

About 86percent of expatriate employees’ passports are being withheld by their employers, said the results of the third annual omnibus survey – A Survey of Life in Qatar, released yesterday.

There was a slight improvement in figures as compared to 2011 survey, which showed 91 percent surrendered their passports and only eight percent has them in their possession.

Although it is more than three years now, since Qatar promulgated a law that stopped sponsors from retaining passports of their employees in their custody, complaints are still pouring in from various quarters about violations of the rule, say media reports.

A group of workers of a construction firm recently approached Asian embassies seeking intervention to return their passports, which their office have been keeping in custody for a year now.

Similarly another construction firm that had been defaulting on salaries of its workers for several months now, has been retaining passports of several workers, and also demanding other employees to handover their passports to the employer, with no specific reason.

The Asian workers of a manpower agency have also come forward with similar complaint of their employers retaining their passports, and have sought assistance from embassy to inform Interior Ministry about the developments.

Explaining the law, Doha legal activist and Migrant Asia Regional Co-ordinator, Nizar Kochery, said that the Law 4/2009 regulates the entry, exit and residency of the country’s foreign workers (expatriates), and gives adequate protection to foreign workers, guaranteeing their right to keep passports in their possession.

He further said that violation of the law could lead to penalty of not less than QR10,000 to the sponsor, or his representative for each passport kept in his illegal custody, while Article 52 of Law 4/2009 has provision for imposing fine on sponsors for violation of employees passports, the legal consultant said.

The Law stipulates that a sponsor is bound to return the passport of employee after mandatory formalities such as visa stamping and residence permit renewal are completed, Kochery pointed out.

Posted on 8/1/2013

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