32.6 C
Doha
Sunday, August 1, 2021

Qatar government says final Kafala reforms to be drafted by year-end

-

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

A final draft law amending Qatar’s controversial kafala sponsorship system is expected to be complete by the end of this year, the government has said in its first official announcement of a timeline for the long-discussed changes.

The official update appears to attempt to allay fears that progress on the reforms were at risk of stalling following reports last week that the country’s Advisory (Shura) Council had reservations about the proposed legislation.

The official media statement by the chief of the recently-formed Government Communications Office, Saif Al-Thani, outlines the legislative process in Qatar to counter claims which previously circulated in the local and international media that the reform process had hit a “setback.”

What’s happened

Following the initial announcement of reforms in May 2014, the proposed changes were discussed with Qatar’s influential business community. While the Chamber of Commerce signalled that it would back the reforms last October, consultations actually appeared to stretch into the new year.

The first iteration of the reforms was then drawn up by the Council of Ministers, Qatar’s “supreme executive authority.” As part of the legislative process, all draft laws are then sent to the Shura Council for review and recommendation, which was done earlier this month.

The advisory body, comprising 30 Qatari nationals, can submit proposals to amend the draft law back to the Council of Ministers, which then discusses the proposals with the relevant ministries and ministers who will be responsible for implementing it.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani met with Shura Council members to discuss their recommendations and concerns.

However, the Government Communications Office noted that the Shura Council “has no further influence on the proposed legislation” now that they’ve tabled their feedback.

“The Council of Ministers will now prepare the final draft of the kafala reform legislation, which is expected to be completed before the end of 2015,” it adds.

Kafala changes

Qatar’s kafala system has attracted considerable criticism from foreign media and human rights’ organizations in recent years for leaving expats vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The country’s officials have long promised reforms and finally introduced its proposals last year.

Since then, government officials have stopped short of giving a firm timeline of when the changes will come into effect.

The state’s Labor Minister came the closest in a media interview last month.

“I hope it will be prior to the year end. We discussed it, our stakeholders have looked at it… Now it is on track. I am 90 percent hopeful or believe that it will be (brought in before the year end),” Dr. Abdullah bin Saleh Al Khulaifi, the Minister for Labor and Social Affairs, was quoted by AFP at the time as saying.

The reforms were initially aimed at making it easier for expats to change jobs and leave the country. However, they stopped short of removing the controversial exit permit system, which requires most expats to obtain their sponsor’s permission before they can leave the country.

Last week’s Shura Council meeting provided the first public glimpse at the actual provisions in the draft legislation. In some cases, it appeared that some provisions would actually tighten restrictions on foreign workers rather than giving them more freedom.

For example, workers could be punished if they “deliberately create problems” for their employers by having the qualifying period for a no-objection certificate doubled, Al Raya reported at the time.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Comprising 50 articles which are sectioned into 10 chapters, the draft law also includes provisions such as only being allowing expats to change jobs after completing a fixed-term contract, or after five years in the case of an open contract. Any job switches would have to be signed off by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs

Additionally, the Shura Council made several proposals of its own, such as banning an expat employee from changing jobs more than twice and underlining the right of employers to return workers hired under fixed-term contracts to their home countries once a project is completed.

Future changes

In the latest statement, the government concedes that “much more needs to be done” to improve workers’ rights and labor practices in Qatar.

“In the months ahead, the government will be looking at further reforms to labor practices in our country,” it said, adding that among the areas set for change will be the “dishonest” recruitment practices for bringing mostly unskilled and semi-skilled workers to the country.

Rogue recruitment agencies have previously been highlighted as a problem. Last July, the government said it would publicly name and shame Qatar-based companies which break the labor law by charging huge recruitment fees, for example.

These often amount to thousands of dollars, which workers usually borrow which puts them in huge debt before they arrive in the state.

Under this burden, exploited workers are often unwilling or afraid to speak up when their passports are seized or they are made to work for less than initially agreed, according to a Qatar Foundation-backed report on the issue which was published in July last year.

Thoughts?

49 COMMENTS

Subscribe
Notify of
49 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

It’s nothing to look forward to.

Gaga
Gaga
6 years ago

Wow, that were the exact phrases they said five years ago. Is it deja vu or stuffs? And also, why is it that there is no expat representative in the commitee? If they aim to tighten more the kalafa law crap, then brothers, I tell you, it’s time to go home.

gore
gore
6 years ago
Reply to  Gaga

If you dont like it go home…
Sorry the temptation was too much.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Gaga

That’s actually a good point. It is hilarious the whole thing is going on and not one single expat is solicited to give his input. Anyway, judging by the latest recommendations of the Shura Council, it seems like there will be more tightening of the job change rules in return for the scrapping of the Kafala system. In other words, Qatar will remove the NOC that everyone is criticizing them for, but will not allow anyone to change jobs (unless they meet some strict conditions).

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
6 years ago

“In the months ahead, the government will be looking at further reforms to labor practices in our country.” I’m sure they added “God willing”.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

Ahhthe insurance policy of Arb speech, absolves you of any personal responsibility….

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

The proposed changes are so weak in a straight fight a one eyed, one armed Indian chai wallah could defeat them.

So much time has been wasted, but so many, in the name of so few, for so little change.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

That is the Qatar way.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

Looks like the reforms will take forever and ever until they find a new word for the reforms. Just wondering why they are fooling themselves

R.p. Upadhyaya
R.p. Upadhyaya
6 years ago

Nothing going to happen in Qatar. Even If you serve in Qatar for over 20 years, They will cut your graduity showing different reasons. They will make you naked & chase to your country. So,Guys make your own space in your own country. If you fail to make your space in your country, how can you expect any space in others country !!!!! I mean never expect any change in Qatar labour rules. You better knew how sura councial members recently reacted with the change.

gore
gore
6 years ago
Reply to  R.p. Upadhyaya

huh?

R.p. Upadhyaya
R.p. Upadhyaya
6 years ago
Reply to  gore

not agreed with me?

gore
gore
6 years ago
Reply to  R.p. Upadhyaya

no not understand you.

R.p. Upadhyaya
R.p. Upadhyaya
6 years ago
Reply to  gore

Read the edited version

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
6 years ago
Reply to  R.p. Upadhyaya

Still don’t understand. Get someone to help you to put your thoughts into words. This doesn’t make sense… even if I work my way around all the language mistakes

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

graduity=gratuity(end of service benefits).

make your own space in your own country=invest in (property) your home country.

You better knew how sura councial members recently reacted with the change= you know how the Shura Council reacted to the proposed kafala changes.

CeePeeEm
CeePeeEm
6 years ago
Reply to  Bajn

Lol 🙂
I think your translation of 2nd phrase is not fully correct.
Can RPU please come in and enlighten the readers?

R.p. Upadhyaya
R.p. Upadhyaya
6 years ago
Reply to  CeePeeEm

You cannot make wake up if someone is making drama of sleeping…….LOL

CeePeeEm
CeePeeEm
6 years ago
Reply to  R.p. Upadhyaya

What has your original comment “make your own space in your own country” got anything to do with your new reply “You cannot make wake up if someone is making drama of sleeping” ?
Apologies for having commented earlier; don’t provide any more explanation please. I give up….

Kz
Kz
6 years ago
Reply to  R.p. Upadhyaya

Wow. This is another gem. LOL.
Mate you should be commenting on all articles. Whats missed on this forum is some comedy and good humour. You provide it.

R.p. Upadhyaya
R.p. Upadhyaya
6 years ago
Reply to  Bajn

thanks for trying to explain……and also the spelling of gratuity ….

MA GreenH
MA GreenH
6 years ago

What really gets me is the lack of urgency, the lack of actually caring about poor people who came here in good faith and are trapped, in essence prisoners. The powers that be are used to a slave culture…and they wont be budged. Stall Stall Stall. Pathetic.

Simon
Simon
6 years ago
Reply to  MA GreenH

Here, it’s called ‘mulling’. Qatar is the world champ of mulling.

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

Not even reading the article anymore..

Win
Win
6 years ago

I just have one word to best describe this article in true fashion which is Qatar ..’INSHA ALLAH’ 🙂

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

Sorry Qatar but the last trace of hope just drained away. Presumably as the draft is to be published at the end of 2015 there will be no need for any more spurious updates announcing that changes to the Kafala are being drafted.

Bornrich
Bornrich
6 years ago

Can something every be ‘over mulled’?

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago
Reply to  Bornrich

A tricky question that one.

Let me mull it over…

Simon
Simon
6 years ago

And after the drafting, the mulling, of course.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

The draft by end 2015. The comments to the draft by 2018. Amendments to the draft by end 2021. End of 2022 the draft suddenly goes missing and the process is abandoned.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

2022? Lol … let us be real…there won’t be no 2022 no matter how much soft power will be exploited.

At this point, those who sign up to work in Qatar are the ones to be blamed. Money is good but when you favor money to your freedom and dignity, well then you can’t cry foul. But i do agree to what you said about the ones already there. At least give all the chance to leave before that kaffala funny process.

Expat
Expat
6 years ago
Reply to  Akmal farah

Hehehe We(The world) know how you got FIFA. And we know what Qatar will do for expats wellbeing. Hahahaha big jokes of GOV. I have one doubt…. I think UAE is the most developed country in GCC, and accommodating more expats for jobs than Qatar. They don’t have a crazy system like this. So why Qatar? if anyone here can please explain me??????????

O
O
6 years ago

Final drafted? Not final reading??? After this does ratification applies? Too much delays, Qatar need some changes in order to improve. Let’s just wait and see!!!

Jason
Jason
6 years ago

From the article: “workers could be punished if they “deliberately create problems” for their employers by having the qualifying period for a no-objection certificate doubled, Al Raya reported at the time”

How does this make any sense at all? If an employee is not performing or “creating problems”, why would the employer then double the employment period / NOC of the bad employee? Sounds like another abuse waiting to happen. Example: Despite working dilligently for the company for X years, Bob is thinking of changing employers. Suddenly Bob is “creating problems” in the eyes of the employer. No NOC for you Bob!

What a load of crap.

Bajn
Bajn
6 years ago
Reply to  Jason

Then Bob will go ” No NOC? I’ll fix you, I’ll perform even worse”.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago

why not copy Dubai

honey
honey
6 years ago
Reply to  sadam

i agree with you.after 2 years contract could change job without noc and even no exit from country.

honey
honey
6 years ago

international community have to give more pressure for this matter otherwise world cup should stop….

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  honey

okay…

Not Drinking The Cool-Aid
Not Drinking The Cool-Aid
6 years ago

cats can’t be expected to write legislation for protecting mice

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago

Which year end ?

allhellbrokelose
allhellbrokelose
6 years ago

Oh were they discussing about workers rights? I thought they were just hanging around trying to please employers!

shafeek
shafeek
6 years ago

Most of the visa transfer process are rejected by labor dept due to unknown reason!

Even you obtain NOC+CID ,does’nt mean you will be able to join other offered co’s..it is totally subject to labor dept.

for3
for3
6 years ago

It will always be the “end of this year” until we reach 2022.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
6 years ago

Bidding to buy Formula 1 sport and bribing Fifa and buying Million dollar horses and London real estate seems to happen at light speed.

Qatar again proves its intentions. What a shame and what a pitty for those who work in this country. I would be so ashamed if i were Qatari. I really would. Dig your heads in the sand and go buy a new car. This is what life is about people… bravo

Expat
Expat
6 years ago

Hehehe We(The world) know how you got FIFA. And we know what Qatar will do for expats wellbeing. Hahahaha big jokes of GOV. I have one doubt…. I think UAE is the most developed country in GCC, and accommodating more expats for jobs than Qatar. They don’t have a crazy system like this. So why Qatar? if anyone here can please explain me??????????

Expat
Expat
6 years ago
Reply to  Expat

:)))))

Expat
Expat
6 years ago

Hehehe We(The world) know how you got FIFA. And we know what Qatar will do for expats wellbeing. Hahahaha big jokes of GOV. I have one doubt…. I think UAE is the most developed country in GCC, and accommodating more expats for jobs than Qatar. They don’t have a crazy system like this. So why Qatar? if anyone here can please explain me??????????

Corbomite
Corbomite
6 years ago

“banning an expat employee from changing jobs more than twice”

This isn’t a good thing as layoffs abound in the industry. If an expat was laid off twice or has finished their contracts on two companies already, they are “lawfully” bound not to change employer.

Kinda contradicts the proposed fixed-term and 5-year-period changes.

Related Articles

- Advertisment -

Most Read

Subscribe to Doha News below!

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.