The Qatari government has said it plans to crack down on companies that don’t pay employees their salaries on time, according to media reports.
Due to a rising number of complaints from expat workers over delayed payments, Hussein Al Mulla, Qatar’s Labor and Social Affairs Ministry undersecretary, told Al Raya newspaper that the government would launch legal action against offending businesses.
But the government prefers to work with transgressors to resolve the situation before taking formal action, Al Mulla said. He added:
“The ministry intervenes to force the companies to comply with their commitments on time, in accordance with the signed contract. In case the company fails to do so, or they repeat the violation again, it will be blacklisted until it corrects its situation … We first seek a cordial solution, but then we take legal measures against the companies which does not respond to our efforts.”
Al Mulla also said the ministry’s office had the power to “accelerate” the processing of court cases, which in the case of late payments can languish for years.
Tardy wage payments were at the center of several recent labor disputes, including a strike threat by bus drivers at Education City.
It is not clear what being blacklisted would entail. But earlier this year, the Ministry of Interior used the word “blacklist” when it banned some 2,400 companies and 1,200 individuals from sponsoring workers as punishment for flouting labor laws.
Several months later, the Ministry of Labor said it would publish the names of companies and classify their compliance with local employment laws, but that list has still not been posted online.
Ministry of Labor officials were not immediately available for comment.
Al Mulla was also quoted as saying the government does not plan on regulating wage levels between private firms and workers, despite a push by human rights activists to establish a minimum wage.
Salaries are a sensitive issue in Qatar, where monthly wages vary widely based on profession and nationality. When Phillipines officials pushed for the enforcement of a QR1,460 ($400) monthly minimum wage for its domestic workers in December of 2012, Qatar responded by putting an unofficial visa ban for the job category.
Meanwhile, in May of this year, the country signed an agreement with Bangladesh to send housemaids here for half that wage, or some $205 (QR750) a month.
Credit: Translation by Amin Isaac