In a move that could have wide-reaching implications for Qatar, the government is considering allowing employees who have finished their contracts here and wish to seek additional work remain in the country.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA) announced its intentions in a series of tweets yesterday, saying that the strategy could help tackle the illegal recruitment fees many low-income expats pay when moving here.
The initiative, which appears to be aimed at low-skilled and semi-skilled workers, would also no doubt help Qatar alleviate some of the pressure of constantly recruiting expats for the countless infrastructure projects that must be completed ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
Under the current sponsorship (kafala) system, expats are not permitted to move to other jobs without the permission of their current employer. If that company refuses to grant a no objection certificate – even if the employee’s contract is finished – that expat must exit the country, and cannot legally work in Qatar for another two years.
But a “worker’s rotation scheme” could dramatically alter that system, which Qatar has retained amid fierce criticism, in part because it gives the country more control about its demographic balance.
Quoting an unnamed MOLSA official, Al Raya reports that the scheme could also reduce inefficiencies in how workers are currently being recruited. The Peninsula translates:
“The proposal aims to redistribute and redeploy groups of workers to capitalize on their expertise and save time, money and resources involved in recruitment of new workers for new projects.
Quoting the source, the daily said this is a very significant project ‘which will safeguard the rights of workers, meet their needs and help the country benefit from their experience in working in development projects.'”
Al Raya added that the proposal is expected to be implemented “soon.”
The development comes amid reports that major changes are coming to Qatar’s kafala system, according to European Parliament members who met with senior government officials here last month.
Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah was also quoted last week by QNA as saying:
“Everyone will be astonished for the steps taken by Qatar and what it will be doing to correct mistakes, if there are any.”
Concurrently, as competition for manpower in the region grows more fierce, government officials have said they plan to postpone some projects before the World Cup, to prioritize other initiatives such as the construction of the stadiums and public transportation system.
According to Al Raya, MOLSA is currently discussing this policy with companies and workers for their feedback.