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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Draft law to pay Qatar workers by direct deposit moves forward

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Moving forward with its pledge to ensure workers in Qatar are paid on time, the nation’s Cabinet has approved a draft law that would require employers to pay wages directly into an employee’s bank account.

In its regular weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet approved a number of changes in the Labor Law No. 14 of 2004, including the introduction of the Wage Protection Scheme. The session was presided over by Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Mahmoud, deputy prime minister and minister of state for cabinet affairs.

According to state news agency QNA, salaried workers who are hired on an annual or monthly basis must be paid their wages by direct deposit every month.

All other workers – including those on an hourly rate – must have their wages paid by electronic bank transfer at least every two weeks.

Workers

Not being paid on time or at all by their employers are among the top complaints of workers in Qatar. Electronic salary transfers are one way the nation can tackle these abuses, and human rights’ organizations have been urging Qatar to adopt it.

In a report issued earlier this year, NGO Engineers Against Poverty‘s research team leader Jill Wells said:

“Non-payment and late payment of wages is one of the biggest concerns to migrant workers. It is also a potential source of disruption and delay to projects, and therefore a major risk to government clients and their project management consultants.”

The new legislation is now being referred to the Advisory Council for approval, and then needs the Emir’s signature to be passed into law. Once this happens, all companies and organizations – government, semi-government and private – would be expected to comply.

QNA added that more detailed regulations to protect workers’ wages would later be announced later by the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Abdullah bin Saleh al Khulaifi.

It is expected that employers who do not comply with the proposed new legislation would be penalized, although the level of fines to be imposed has yet to be announced.

Scheme details

The new payment system, which would bring Qatar in line with the UAE in terms of protection of workers’ wages, was first discussed by the Deputy Prime Minister at the end of April.

At that time, he announced that the Cabinet was considering introducing the scheme as part of a number of revisions to articles 1, 66 and 145 of the Labor Law of 2004.

In particular, the draft would revise Article 66, which states that employees can be paid in cash and in person, and that salaries can be transferred to bank accounts only by “mutual consent.”

exchange

The new system would be created and handled by Qatar Central Bank, and supported by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) – the government department responsible for overseeing the recruitment of all non-domestic workers to Qatar.

Financial institutions and companies are also expected to play a role.

MOLSA and the Ministry of Interior would also collaborate to develop a database to track payments, and companies have already been asked by the labor ministry to provide salary details of all their employees.

A timeline for the new system has not yet been announced, but authorities previously said it would be rolled out in three phases.

The first phase would affect the largest companies, with more than 500 employees. The requirement would then be rolled out to firms with 100 to 500 workers, while SMEs with fewer than 100 employees are expected to be included in the final stage.

Kafala changes

Last year, Qatar commissioned UK law firm DLA Piper to investigate media reports about labor abuses here. The electronic wage payment system was among the many recommendations in the 139-page report, “Migrant labour in the construction sector in the State of Qatar.”

The wage payment change is part of a larger reform that Qatar has pledged to make of its restrictive kafala sponsorship system. In May, the government announced it was considering a number of changes, including making it easier for expats to switch jobs and leave the country.

However, the proposed changes met with significant criticism from expats and international groups, who felt the potential changes didn’t go far enough. At the same time, many prominent Qatari business owners expressed concern that the proposals were too radical.

Thoughts?

39 COMMENTS

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Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago

It is Ramadan, then there is Eid, and then summer holidays. To be fair, I am not expecting any substantial changes to the Kafala system before the end of the year, if ever it happens.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

If newspaper reports about how “local businessman” are upset about the proposals are to be believed, I wouldn’t be expecting any changes, substantial or otherwise, any time soon.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Probably the most realistic comment here. We are in that time of year when someone says its Ramadan, let’s do this after Eid, wait no, after the second Eid, but then it’s Christmas and then new year. Yep, let’s wait until next year.

The Reporter
The Reporter
7 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

End of the year? Try century. The simple greed of the wealthiest per capita nation on the planet will keep the Kafala unchanged for as long as you and I live.

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago

How does paying direct into bank improve the situation as the employer still has to make the transfer and can still delay ‘pressing the button’ to suit his needs.

Yacine
Yacine
7 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

Since the system is automated it will not be a big an issue to set up a mechanism whereby a warning is sent to the employer after X days from the scheduled payment date, and then penalties are imposed if there is no reaction from him.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago
Reply to  wee_johnnie

Electronic foot print of actual transactions for future records and disputes. Plus Central Bank monitors and collaborates information on electronic transactions of companies with previous record of late payment and informs ministry of labor and ministry of commerce in order to take corrective actions if needed.

Future small companies or companies with record of late payments will not be able to obtain visas or hiring contracts from the ministry of labor for x number of workers unless they first retain a fixed deposit in a bank of x*y or issue a letter of credit to secure future employee pay. So even if the company goes bust or fails to pull in revenue employee pay will not be effected and the employees would all have bank accounts making pay accurate and timely.

Educate yourself, you seem not to know much on how the banking industry works or electronic book keeping. Learn Arabic and read local Arabic press and blogs to be more informed in your fight to aid the the plight of low income expats.. or the very least stop relaying all your information and opinions on the great journalism of dn

Shabina921
Shabina921
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Your comments are sometimes helpful, but please stop attacking our commenters. ps Welcome back.

Mayette
Mayette
7 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

he should attack, OP posted a speculation based on no evidence, he should “educate himself” before making such comments not only in such online platforms but in life even.

Dismanirie
Dismanirie
7 years ago
Reply to  Mayette

Except that A_qtr was replying to wee_johnnie, not Opoku Jude. So read before you write.

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

if how is saying educate yourself an attack?

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago

Saying “educate yourself” is an attack because it is implying the other person is stupid.

In the case of wee_johnnie he was asking a question, and a forum like this should be a place where people can ask questions. You ask a question in hopes that someone on the forum may help to “educate” you. I will admit that there are so many questions I have put out on this forum because I know I am not educated in a particular topic, and I love it when someone will respond and explain to me the way it works out in here in Qatar.

There isn’t exactly a “manual” of all the rules and social norms of Qatar for expats who (with a good heart) want to read and learn so they can respect the rules and norms, so I would like to think that asking questions is respected because it is demonstrating a desire to understand. But when the question is answered, and then followed by “educate yourself” it does seem a bit like an attack because that person was attempting to get educated by asking the question in the first place!

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
7 years ago
Reply to  Expat Girl

Not necessarily everyone needs to educate themselfs about something, plus I have been told that more than once here, I never saw it as an attack. Also his question was about banking in general not really particular to qatar or qatari customs/culture

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago

I’m glad you never saw it as an attack when it was said to you. I guess for me, if it was said to me it might hurt my feelings, so I felt a bit defensive of him when I saw that comment. But I am a female, so I’m probably more sensitive than you guys are!! 🙂

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Expat Girl

Being stupid and being uneducated are not the same thing. You can usually cure the latter with education, but the former is very hard to cure.

In this case, wee started with a question (which had nothing to do with Qatari social norms) but it was followed with a baseless assumption; “the employer still has to make the transfer and can still delay ‘pressing the button’ to suit his needs.” Had he had a basic understanding of the benefits of electronic banking, in relation to paid wages, and stopped to think about it before commenting, he should’ve been able to see why this would make it a whole easier to hold accountable employers that delay wages or don’t pay them.

I understand why A-qtr replied the way he did; we often see people here making negative generalizations about Qataris and Qatar that are based on things like anecdotal evidence or stereotypes. It gets tiresome for some. How many times have I read “Qataris don’t go to jail or don’t pay traffic fines.”

The Reporter
The Reporter
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

You may be right about the generalisations Abdulrahmen, but they stem from the perception that the vast majority of expats have, born from the Kafala, the constant high-profile abuses of individual human rights, and the fiasco of the Viilagio trials etc etc, that there is one law for the Qatari and one for the rest of the world.

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I completely understand what you are saying; I guess I just never want a person to feel attacked for simply asking a question, unless of course if there is malicious intent behind it. I suppose that is the “teacher” side of my personality 🙂

Love your comment about stupid vs. uneducated… SO TRUE!!

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

Shabina, it’s your blog and your free to set whatever rules you believe are best. However, might I just ask that if you consider A-qtr’s “Educate yourself” to be an attack that violates your comments policy, then what you think of this comment reply to me on the recent story of the trial for the murdered American teacher.

“I’ll take that as an admission of your hypocrisy. Dodging real arguments is, after all, your forte. Well, that and quoting (sometimes incorrectly) other people, rather than coming up with your own quips.”

Just saying if there are rules then they should apply equally to all, and applied selectively.

Have a nice day 🙂

MrJames
MrJames
7 years ago

a very positive step forward, although a few steps further wouldn’t go amiss..

Opoku Jude
Opoku Jude
7 years ago

This is a good step in the right direction from the good people of the State of Qatar, but we are still expecting more changes to take place especially the change of jobs without the use of NOC when one’s contract with an employer ends and less restriction in the exit permit. These two main areas if changed, will go a long way to sell the good image of the State of Qatar and it will lead to diversification of many areas within the Economy, which will help to propel the State of Qatar to the top and eventually, becoming the best Arab state to live in and do business without any foreign criticism from the Western power houses and the Americans.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Opoku Jude

That’s a bold statement. Even in the west the governments are being criticised by the media and individuals al the time, so to hope for no foreign criticism is a fantasy.

I also don’t see NOC as the biggest problem, if you have to work 3-5 years with first employer that brought you here then no problem. If you have just used them to get into the country and jump ship for an extra 10 QR at the earliest opportunity then shame on you.

Opoku Jude
Opoku Jude
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I think you lack proper understanding of what i said because, i never stated that NOC was the biggest problem but rather an urgent area we need to look into for flexibility in the job market which in another way will bring a healthy competition among the firms in the country and that it will go a long way to change certain attitude of employers. If the employer knows that at the end of the employee’s contract he or she can move without any clause holding him or her back to another competitor, then the employer will do his or her best to provide the employee with suitable working conditions which includes what will make the employee stay. Your ignorance has also been exposed in this regard because we hardly hear the West being criticise on Human Right Issue rather they point fingers on Arab Nations as major players in terms of the abuses of Human Right.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Opoku Jude

Actually if you look across the Arab world it is a mess of human rights abuses from Syria to Iraq to Egypt to Sudan to Saudi Arabia to Morocco to Algeria so I don’t get your point. Are you seriously saying living in the Arab world is better than living in Sweden or Switzerland?

The Reporter
The Reporter
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

NIMH you miss the point completely. Firstly it is a basic human right that someone can sell his labour to the highest bidder whenever he wants, and withdraw his labour when he wants. In a free and competitive labour market people do not “jump ship” for the sake of an extra QR10 because the employer actively encourages them to stay by offering a competitive salary and humane working conditions – the result being a happy employee that identifies with the firm and gives his best efforts. The Kafala does not encourage, it is punitive, and has exactly the opposite effect, with the NOC being the weapon of choice – either stay in the job and suffer any misfortune that may be heaped on you or leave the country. Is that really the employment system that you want? And don’t tell me about how it costs so much to ship an employee out to Qatar and back home, because again that is the risk run by every employer in a free competitive market.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

Not that I support the NOC, but even in a western country like Canada seasonal migrant workers are not allowed to switch employers. Even worse, many of them are hired because they are willing to accept lesser wages than the average Canadian would, and so, they are taking away jobs from the local population.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

It is a good system and gives the government an easy way to prove whether employees have been paid or not. My only concern is these low income workers will now be at the mercy of the banks in Qatar. I have never seen a larger collection of incompetent banks than in Qatar and that is before you talk about the most incompetent and insulting customer service. If I had to speak to the CEO of one bank to get satisfaction, then these poor people stand no chance.

Kingpin
Kingpin
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

TBH I have never had an issue with the banking system here and QNB’s online service would put many British banks to shame. I can do everything from it without ever having to visit the bank. Including transferring money overseas at very competitive rates.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Kingpin

I haven’t had too much to do with QNB so you could well be right, the others however are awful and with one telling me outright lies.

A_qtr
A_qtr
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Where do you bank? CBQ puts all western based banks to shame

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I wasn’t going to mention any names by CBQ was the bank where I was lied to by three people against their own T&Cs so I no longer have a relationship with them. Maybe they have improved in the last three years but I will never go back.

Let’s face it, banks anywhere in the world don’t have a good reputation these days. The word banker is normally spent with a w.

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
7 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

CBQ services are good as long as you pay close attention to their terms and conditions. Doha Bank and QNB provide good services honestly. I think the banking sector is quite good here as well. Customer service is a whole different matter ofcourse.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago

“many prominent Qatari business owners expressed concern that the proposals were too radical” Well, if you don’t like it, you can leave 😉

Expat Girl
Expat Girl
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Good one!

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
7 years ago
Reply to  Expat Girl

Thanks, we try 😉

theobserver
theobserver
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

It is not that easy. After all, they are the citizens of this country and we are not. So, the option to leave is for us.

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Many of them have big houses in London so easy for them to relocate…..

noli
noli
7 years ago

the goverment must also look at the salary of the workers most of the company are not follow the salary bracket

The Reporter
The Reporter
7 years ago

Don’t quite understand what this will change. I’ve always been paid by electronic bank transfer and my firm has never managed to get it into my account better than 5 days late with the record being 2 weeks. If it is delayed deliberately it really doesn’t make any difference whether it’s electronic or pigeon post.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
7 years ago

I believe it when I see it

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