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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Labor ministry cracks down on maid agencies

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Domestic worker

Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs plan to target Qatar’s recruitment agencies that specialize in supplying housemaids next month to ensure the businesses are complying with the country’s labor laws.

The crackdown follows multiple complaints from Qataris and expats, the Peninsula reports.

Top of the list of customer frustrations are high agency fees, maids who run away and agencies’ failure to replace maids who have left their sponsor, according to the Peninsula, which cites a report in local Arabic daily newspaper Al Sharq.

The aim of the month-long inspection campaign is to make sure that agencies are meeting the conduct and performance guidelines laid down by the ministry.

Agencies that have not been performing according to government recommendations will given assistance to get up to scratch, Al Sharq said.

The ministry has established a complaint hotline for customers (8006611) and a three-day target for its team to take action on each grievance.

UPDATE | Nov. 4, 2015: The hotline now appears to be out of service.

Agencies’ performance

Last year, the Ministry of Labor’s ratings system for 135 maid recruitment agencies revealed that more than half were given a sub-standard grade.

A total of 79 manpower agencies were given the lowest classification of ‘C,’ while 10 lost their licenses for labor violations.

Some 17 firms received ‘A’ grades, and the top-performing companies were awarded 10 free maid visas each.

Last month, MOLSA announced it would publicly name and shame manpower agencies which were found to have broken the Labor Law (Law no. 14 of 2004) by releasing their names to local media.

In a letter to agencies, it warned that it would operate a “three strikes” rule, saying that any company found to have violated the labor law and had three complaints filed against it would be publicly named in local newspapers.

Recruitment offenses

employment contract

The law bans agents from charging fees to recruit workers to Qatar and requires that all expats have a written contract signed before they enter the country.

However, several international reports have found that some agents here and in the most popular lab0r-sending countries do not follow those rules.

A recent study commissioned by Qatar Foundation revealed that many laborers and domestic staff are charged huge fees of up to $5,000 to pay for their passage to Qatar.

Unable to afford such sums, these workers take on enormous debts in order to satisfy the agents.

The practice of substitute contracts is also rife, the report found.

Workers are often required to sign one contract in their home country, but when they arrive in Qatar are forced to sign a replacement one, with lower salary and poorer terms and conditions.

New worker housing

Qatar has been trying recently to make steps to improve conditions for blue-collar workers.

The Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (Baladiya) is about to float tenders to local contractors to build new housing complexes for 28,000 workers, the Peninsula reports.

The plan is to build seven residential units, each housing around 4,000 laborers, with ancillary shopping, entertainment and social blocks.

There will also be Ministry of Interior facilities such as immigration, police and traffic offices.

This complete workers’ complex will be built on the outskirts of Doha to meet “international standards,” and will rehouse workers who are currently living in the center of the city.

This is the latest step in an ongoing move to move all labor camps out of Doha, to the Industrial Area and other outlying communities.

 In 2011, the government made it illegal for labor camps to be in residential areas.

An exception was made for workers’ accommodation in Al Rayyan municipality, but only on the condition that there were no Qatari families living nearby.

Single men, dubbed “bachelors,” are often turned away from shopping malls and other leisure complexes in Doha, particularly on Fridays – the common day off for most workers.

West End Park
West End Park

Dedicated entertainment areas for workers , such as West End Park, in the Industrial Area, have been built in recent years.

While some welcomed the facility which includes an amphitheater, shopping mall, four-cinema complex and cricket stadium, other have said such initiatives foster social divisions.

Thoughts?

8 COMMENTS

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outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

Certainly good news and a welcome step forward. Perhaps including Domestic workers pay and conditions under the remit of the Qatar Labour Law is the next step, so that employers are also required to comply with pay and conditions for workers in their homes- agreed hours within the guidelines set out by law, holidays, days off, salary payment etc. All a welcome step in the right direction

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

I think a change in terminology is needed. Maids do not run away, they are not prisoners, children or dogs. They are treated like prisoners by some and the only way they can choose to leave employment is to walk out of the door and not come back, otherwise they may be punished and their freedoms restricted even further.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

“Single men, dubbed “bachelors,” are often turned away from shopping malls and other leisure complexes in Doha, particularly on Fridays – the common day off for most workers.”

Let’s call it as it is. It’s racist day. If you are Qatari or western, (white) them you have no problem getting in to the malls on Friday, but if you are a bit brown and look at a certain way they you get shown the door. (Ironically sometimes by your own countrymen)

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Besides the recruitment agencies, would it also not be in order to crack down on the employers and sponsors who mistreat, harass and abuse this workers and don’t pay them their dues on time nor do they give them a weekly or even a monthly day off. and when they complain they are rushed off to the detention or deportation centres as if they have committed a crime

Big Biker
Big Biker
6 years ago

I believe a major problem with the charging of fees to employees is not always instigated by the employer or agent here. I know of workers from the Philippines who are charged a fee by the local agent without knowledge at the time by the parties here. One solution is to audit the overseas agents by actually going and checking what they are doing.
The cost of a flight and a few days in a hotel would I believe help to resolve much of the problem of local agents ripping people off.

Ms. Hala
6 years ago

I simply don’t understand how with the strict “kafala” system, these recruiting agencies are literally able to get away with human trafficking. Here’s a simple idea: People who want to work in Qatar or get a job offer, apply for a work visa directly at their local Qatar embassy. If you need a placement agency, it must be based in Qatar and the embassy is your middle man between you and the agency. Employees are responsible to go to the embassy to confirm the legitimacy of the company/agency, get their entrance visa, their contract attested, etc. That way, no one is in ridiculous debt, no one abused with an illegal contract, or shammed into paying fees for a bogus job offer.

There was a placement agency back in the US that was “placing” English teachers in various countries across Asia. One quick check with one of the embassies and learned this placement agency was not legit. Qatar needs this system!

Also, this whole “no bachelor in malls on Fridays” is complete and utter BS. Its racist, stupid and racist. I’d like to see one of these poor guys throw on a thob and a security guard bat an eye at him! Astaghfar Allah…

Mr. Mahmood Raj
Mr. Mahmood Raj
6 years ago

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Gabriel Konki
Gabriel Konki
6 years ago

I am Gabriel , Social worker, from India. helping Indian House maids, who are in Gulf Countries. Now Mrs. Mary a 40 years house maid, served 9 years continuously in one house , raised one 7 months baby to 9 years and , her mistress works in Dohail postal office, thus raised that boy only her job and that boy unable to leave her, so she had to wait for 9 years continuously to come home to see his two daughters got married and got two each kids, and her 8 years old son, now 15 years, and he is in 11th class. He looks 19 and very good and obedient learning Arabic from her mother. Now she wanted to come to Doha Qatar, with his 14 years old son as a house maid, specialist in look after the children. She lost her husband on January 10th ,2015 here, but her pass port expired in 2012, so she could not see her husband’s face in the last moments. The Indian Embassy helped her a lot. She told the press here, the Doha Qatar people are very good at house maids. She forgot to speak her own language “Telugu” and now she is fluent in Arabic. If any house or Organization if could employ her any where in Doha Qatar, for good salary and contract, she is strong and dedicated, and loyal. I wish if she could bring her son of 15 years there, she can serve for 10 more years in Doha Qatar. She can not pay any agency commission or bear the ticket, please email me at foodforhungry@gmail.com thank you . -Gabriel. or phone me at 00+91+9346812892

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