Qatar has made immense efforts to establish good practices in labour recruitment all-through, with a good package of legislative reforms, the Labour and Social Affairs Minister in Qatar, Yousef bin Mohamed al-Othman Fakhro, mentioned during his speech at the Fair Recruitment Forum recently.
The Forum was held in partnership with International Labour Organization and the US Department of State, together with Qatar Chamber and Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
The Minister observed that the country continues to work on improving procedures, which will entrench the principles of fair recruitment and combat all means of deception and exploitation, including methods leading to forced labour and human trafficking.
This was the first and most important such event in Qatar at the regional and global, which saw a gathering of all senior officials from public institutions in various sectors across Qatar, discussing on issues pertaining to payment of recruitment fees.
The Forum was focused on studying and reviewing the efforts made to ensure fair recruitment procedures, creating awareness of the labour law which prohibits levying of recruitment fee among workers, and ensure that workers do not bear any financial costs imposed by recruitment agencies, other than those provided for by law, and take necessary measures and procedures to ensure smooth, fair, transparent and legal employment.
The reforms adopted by the Qatari government in protecting rights of expat workers, particularly the circulation and amendment of labour laws, have all emphasized on prohibiting recruitment fee on workers, both within the State and in labour-exporting countries.
Raising awareness through workshops
The Minister said that more workshops are required to raise awareness about the need to combat workers' pay for recruitment fee, and to co-operate in developing policies and tools, which will help address the problem by providing necessary support through establishment of voluntary technical working group, comprising local national actors. The group can meet to discuss the progress made and the possible way to enforce the application of labour laws in Qatar.
The workshops will offer pilot experience of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which provided compensation to workers involved in 2022 FIFA World Cup projects, an estimated QR52.5million, the Minister noted.
The Minister expressed hope that due to this Forum, the concerned parties would work on more reforms aimed at providing decent work and living conditions for expat workers, with objectives of sustainable development of United Nations and Qatar National Vision 2030.
Fundamental Reforms made
The Qatar Chamber First Vice-Chairman, Mohamed bin Ahmed bin Towar al-Kuwari mentioned that keeping in view of Qatar's eagerness to safeguard the rights of workers and reflect the importance of their role and participation in advancing the development process, the State has adopted a package of Fundamental Reforms recently to ensure protection of labour rights, and maintain the highest standards of safety and security.
A package of new laws and legislative amendments has been made to create ideal working environment. Most important and notable among these are:
- Law regulating entry and exit of expats
- System of wage protection
- Establishment of Committees to resolve labour disputes
- Abolition of restrictions on exit of workers from the State
- Abolition of Sponsorship Law
In line with the above developments, the Qatar Chamber has expressed eagerness to organize seminars and workshops to create awareness of laws and legislation pertaining to labour issues and inform the business owners and representatives of the basic principles of human rights, while also urging workers to adhere to the laws.
The Qatar Chamber was also keen on highlighting the achievements of Qatar in the field of foreign trade.
He said that while the private sectors and institutions in Qatar are committed to laws pertaining to expatriate jobs, people in Qatar are satisfied with private sector's response to labour market reforms. There has been complete co-operation of local companies in implementing this legislation, he said.
Al-Kuwari emphasized that the Qatari Labour Law has helped in placing Qatar on the list of countries where expat labour is of great importance. All thanks to the directives of HH the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the law strictly prohibits imposition of any kind of recruitment fee on the applicant.
He further expressed hope that the Forum would produce results and suggestions to promote fair recruitment of foreign workers.
The efforts made by Qatar in supporting the Human Rights principle were much hailed by William Grant, charge d'affaires, US Embassy Qatar. He congratulated the State for its achievements in this regard, and the role played by the government as an example in the field of human rights protection.
He highlighted the importance of co-operation between US and Qatar in protecting workers' rights, and called on employers and private sector to co-operate in order to prevent workers from paying recruitment fee within the framework of establishing the concept of fair recruitment.
He further said that the US provides all support and training to its partners in Qatar within framework of constructive co-operation between Washington and Doha in various fields.
Sharon Burrow, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation mentioned that Qatar has taken great decisions to preserve the rights of workers, including abolition of exit permits, establishing system of contracts, dispute settlement system, formation of joint labour committees, and minimum wage guarantee to ensure a decent life for its workers.
In general, the achievements by Qatar in the area of wage protection are remarkable, she pointed out.