24.6 C
Doha
Friday, October 30, 2020

Qatar officials propose changes to kafala system

-

Qatar flag

Updated with quotes from Human Rights Watch.

Qatar’s government has proposed making it easier for expats to leave the country and change jobs, but has stopped short of abolishing a system of exit visas and no-objection certificates for its foreign workforce.

Officials from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs held a highly anticipated press conference this afternoon to release what it billed as “wide-ranging labour market reforms.”

“We want to provide more protection to the expat community and (all) workers in this country, to provide them with more protection and safeguard their rights,” said Salih Saeed Al-Sahwi, MOLSA’s manager of labor relations, according to the official translation.

Actual changes, however, appear to be some time away. Today’s announcement represents the “first step” in changing Qatar’s labor laws, as proposals supported by the executive branch of government must still be circulated to the country’s Chamber of Commerce and approved by the Advisory (Shura) Council.

Proposed changes

The current exit permit system largely requires foreign workers to get their employer’s consent to leave the country. Officials today proposed shifting this process to an automated system run by the Ministry of Interior.

Expats would apply for a permit at least 72 hours prior to departure. It would then be up to their employer to argue why the individual should not be allowed to leave the country, such as criminal or financial wrongdoing. Any objections would then be reviewed by a special committee.

Travel applications for emergencies would be flagged and dealt with separately, an official told Doha News.

Some employers in Qatar have previously argued that the exit permit system is needed to prevent foreign workers from fleeing the country after taking out loans that the sponsor is liable to cover.

The government appears to have undermined that argument by proposing that employers no longer be financially responsible for their employees. Instead, financial obligations incurred by foreign workers will be governed by the country’s civil and commercial laws.

Changing jobs

Currently, expats require a no-objection certificate from their employers before they can change sponsors and take up a new job in Qatar. Alternatively, they can leave the country for two years before taking up a new position.

Under the government’s new proposals, employees who sign a fixed-term contract would be free to transfer to a new employer at the end of their contract.

However, those who sign an indefinite contract would have to work for their employer for five years before being allowed to change positions.

If foreign workers want to change jobs earlier, they would still need the permission of their employer.

Other key points of the reform package include:

  • Increasing the penalty for confiscating a worker’s travel documents from a maximum of QR10,000 to up to QR50,000 per passport;
  • Distributing a “model contract” that employers must follow in principle when drafting employment agreements;
  • Requiring wages to be paid electronically to ensure wages are deposited into a worker’s bank account on time;
  • Enforcing a new accommodation standard for workers’ housing. No details of those standards were provided; and
  • Formulating harsher penalties for labor law violations, such as late payment of wages and violations of the new accommodations standards.

Officials said the changes would cover all foreign employees in Qatar when asked if the proposals included domestic workers, who are not currently covered by the country’s labor laws.

A suggestion that a minimum wage might be included was rejected by Al-Sahwi, who said salaries would be based on the forces of supply and demand.

However, in response to another question, Ali Ahmad Al-Khulaifi – the planning and quality department director at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs – opened the door to ending the prohibition on workers joining trade unions.

“We believe in the right of workers to have trade unions and their own associations,” he said in Arabic. However, he hedged his comments by arguing that the labor market in Qatar – which is overwhelmingly made up of foreigners – is different from other countries, meaning any such changes regarding trade unions required further study and consultations.

Killing “kafala”

Officials at Wednesday’s press conference repeatedly said that the kafala system would be eliminated, starting by changing the name of the law to one governing the “entry, residence and exit of expatriate workers.”

While the the practical implications are unclear, it appears the intent is to give more weight to the contract between employers and employees alongside more state oversight and regulation.

A statement handed out to reporters was titled, “Qatar abolishes kafala” – a claim quickly panned by critics.

Nick McGeehan, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, called the statement “utterly misleading.

“The claim that they’ve abolished kafala is an attempt to garner praise for a step that they have manifestly not taken.”

DLA Piper

Not mentioned during today’s briefing was the 135-page report the government received from international law firm DLA Piper on the living and working conditions of the country’s blue-collar workforce.

The government commissioned the report last fall in response to critical media coverage of the abuse of migrant workers, and confirmed it had received the study earlier this month.

The state-run Qatar News Agency had said the report would only be made public after the government had reviewed its findings and evaluated the feasibility of its recommendations.

McGeehan has reviewed the DLA Piper report and said it is not clear how today’s announcement relates to the more than 60 recommendations it contains.

For example, DLA Piper recommended a full phase-out of the exit permit system – not transferring more powers to the government, according to McGeehan.

“(Qatar’s) response has been garbled and confusing,” he told Doha News.

McGeehan added that the DLA Piper report calls for measures such as performing more autopsies or post-mortem examinations following unexplained deaths as well as an independent study on migrant deaths attributable to cardiac arrest to determine how and why otherwise healthy laborers are dying.

Other recommendations are more closely tied to the country’s labor laws. McGeehan said these include abolishing court fees when filing labor court cases – often cited as a barrier to justice for low-income workers – as well as having the state cover repatriation costs and end-of-service gratuities and recoup those expenses from problematic employers.

“It’s difficult to square (today’s) press release with the very clear and concise recommendations of the DLA Piper report,” McGeehan said.

“I don’t want to be too critical today … If today is the absolute and final response, it falls so short that it can’t possibly be. There must be more.”

 

203 COMMENTS

Subscribe
Notify of
203 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
6 years ago

Did any of the reporters ask what the timeframe would be to see any of these ‘changes’?

Ms. Hala
6 years ago
Reply to  SullyofDoha

Since these are only proposals, it’ll depend how long the shoura reviews and dis/approves these proposals. So Qatar standard time… I’d say a couple years!

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Ms. Hala

Please take your words back “Couple Years” 🙁

Huw Nicholas
Huw Nicholas
6 years ago

I will place a bet that the law will come in reasonably soon, but what about the governments automated system for exit visas? Has this even been thought about in any way other than an idea?

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago
Reply to  Huw Nicholas

It already exists but the way we do it now is that our sponsors login with their ID and do it for us. Now I assume it will be open to all IDs basically.

Ms. Hala
6 years ago

Are you not aware of “Qatar Standard Time”? Nothing happens in days, weeks, or months… always YEARS!

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Ms. Hala

Hope this time they follow some other Time Zone 🙂

Qatar Rocks
Qatar Rocks
6 years ago
Reply to  SullyofDoha

This is a just proposal subject to final approval of Government’s Executive (Shuraa) Committee

Mostafa
Mostafa
6 years ago
Reply to  SullyofDoha

As per the EU Parliament delegation to Qatar few weeks ago, they where promised the changes will be in place before their next visit in September.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Mostafa

LOL – And the airport was to be finished in 2009.

taurz
taurz
6 years ago
Reply to  SullyofDoha

“Inshallah” doesn’t have a time period..!!! 😛

osamaalassiry
osamaalassiry
6 years ago
Reply to  taurz

“Inshallah” is literally “If god wills it”.

“IF!”

I refuse some of the requests from my children by saying “Inshallah”. I also approve them with the same words “Inshallah”.

Sameer Joad
Sameer Joad
6 years ago

So the 2 year ban still stays? This is confusing, i read ealier on Doha News that the 2 year ban will be lifted, but its not mentioned here?

Amber
Amber
6 years ago

Little disappointed that they are still requiring expats to obtain an exit visa. If they want to stop people from fleeing the country for loans and unfinished work then only those people should be barred from leaving the country without permission. People who have no loans and no unfinished work should be free to come and go as they please.

As for the NOC changes, they are reasonable. You shouldn’t be able to change jobs if you are still under contract. But if you have finished your contract then they have no right to tell you if you can work some other place or not.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

for fixed period contracts I agree, but I think it’s not fair for open-ended i.e. indefinite term contracts, as in those cases the minimum period will be considered 5 years. So probably all employers will switch to indefinite contracts now

Amber
Amber
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

But who would agree to sign an indefinite contract? That’s like making a deal with the devil.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Haha, I’ve already signed one, and I know many others who have. I came here planning on staying at least 5 years, with the same employer, or leave if that doesn’t work out. And the devil in this case is trustworthy, in my opinion, so I went for it. No regrets so far, but the system should not be restrictive regardless of any individual’s specific circumstances

Amber
Amber
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Maybe I’m overly cautions or untrusting but I wouldn’t sign an indefinite contract with my own mother so of course for a job in a country that is not my own. Things change and people change. Someone might be trustworthy today and be a snake the next.

SeeNoEvil
SeeNoEvil
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

yea you are just been realistic, and i support that. 5yr is quite a long party with the devil

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

No, you’re not overly cautious or untrusting. You just have good common sense, which, it seems, many people here lack!

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Hear hear. Just look at the driving behaviour and you soon realise that common sense isn’t common.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Or the drinking behavior 😉

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

And smoking. by the way what time is the rugby club open today I’m thirsty 😉

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Not even with your mom??!!

taurz
taurz
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Well, you are lucky you have the CHOICE to decide whether u sign the contract or not. Migrant workers, especially in the lower grade category, doesn’t usually have a choice. The desperate situation on their end will be easily taken advantage of. They will sign on anything to get a job.

If the State doesn’t protect their rights with the proper laws, the employers will take take advantage of them.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  taurz

Exactly..

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Amber I’m not sure what your problem is with an indefinite contract..most employment contracts in most countries (for citizens of that country) are simply indefinite contracts that terminate when either party excercises their right to do so. It’s only here in Qatar that it seems it will become a chain around ones neck.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Most contracts here with big companies are open ended contracts. Projects usually have x yearly contracts. We’ve been on an open contract for nearly eight years now. No problems. It will be interesting to see what happens in these situations now. Will companies play with the law and start doing only five year contracts. In so many ways this could backfire on Qatar completely.
The government has given with one hand and taken away with the other.

Mostafa
Mostafa
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

The main point here is not the 5 years itself, it’s when the 5 years really start? is it from the contract start date (which could be 3 or 4 years back in some cases) or from the law implementation date (which up in the future)?
If it’s the second, then most employees are doomed.

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Mostafa

How about all employers now forcing employees to renew the contract 🙁

Mostafa
Mostafa
6 years ago

This i know as a fact from my work experience, (Labor Department doesn’t accept any contract to be legalized unless it mentions the actual start date of the employment), so the contract date will be from today but the duration of the contracts always starts from your first working date.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Mostafa

Because you are thinking of yourself.

SeeNoEvil
SeeNoEvil
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

your devil must be cool then

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  SeeNoEvil

very cool

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

Most of the poor labourers here will sign anything as they are desperate. Often they are also illiterate.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

So, if I sign a contract in French, and I don’t speak French, I can just say, “well, I don’t speak French, so this contract is not binding?” Sorry, but they sign those contracts back home, so their governments should make sure they know what they’re signing.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Missing the point here. They are very very poor , disempowered, uneducated and just sign. Where you sir are educated and understand the implications of signing a contract. In any event the contract is null if either party are incapable of understanding, which is the case, but is not enforced in Qatar.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Is this really an argument you wish to make? That people with no education shouldn’t be able to make their own choices and be responsible for those choices? If we follow that logic, then how can we trust them to switch employers?

Would you apply the same rule to the contract and agreements they sign back home with employers there or with the people who lend them money?

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

No that is not the point I am making. The fact they are desperate for a job and very much in a one down position when it comes to them signing on is the point. Suggesting that I would consider anyone’s ability to make decisions baed on their education is ridiculous . They are poorly educated due to their life situation not because of any lack of intelligence. I am merely pointing out that they have very different pressures upon them than what you or I do.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I think you’ll find that in most reasonable countries the onus is on all signatories to ensure the contract is understood by all parties and not signed under duress. If it is found not to be a contract would normally be considered null and void.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

If I may ask, how do you exactly measure and prove the whole, “most reasonable countries the onus is on all signatories to ensure the contract is understood by all parties and not signed under duress”? I have read way too many stories in the followup of the 2009 financial crisis where people in the U.S. where losing their homes because there were these clauses in their agreements with the banks that allowed the banks to increase the interest rate to a level they couldn’t pay or some such tactic.

Kris
Kris
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The thing is, other country government’s leave it up to an individual person to decide what contracts they get in to, and what they don’t. What is happening in Qatar is that people that are desperate and willing to accept an exceptionally low salary are being targeted and exploited, because they will sign anything!

I know of a laborer who worked in our office through a labor supply company and he explained to me that during Ramadan they did not get any reduced working hours, and if they worked less hours, it was deducted from their pay, or suspended. Qatari Companies (because they all have to be 51% Qatari owned) are exploiting staff because they know these Nepali laborers cannot speak English. In a way, they are able to make up their own law because the laborers don’t know any better.

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Doesn’t matter if they scrutinize every word of the contract in their home country. (Assuming of course they can all read in the first place). The contract they get on arrival here is often very different and how many times do we hear of people being recruited for one job in their own country to arrive here and find they are contracted out to do something entirely different with no chance of being allowed to return home for at least two years.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Desert Witch

That’s a different issue and you won’t hear me arguing against ensuring that Qatar work on ensuring that this practice should be stopped. However, this really goes back to the home countries and the recruitment agencies back there who are responsible for this.

LAH
LAH
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

I know lots of people that are on these contracts. They are free to leave but won’t get an NOC.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  LAH

Well, they shouldn’t have signed those indefinite contracts to begin with.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

And the other option is return to the village with no income. Power imbalance my man.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

How is that power imbalance Qatar’s fault? You speak as if Qatar has the power to prevent them from choosing to work in other countries? You’ll find people with university degrees, in Qatar, the U.S. and elsewhere, who work as sales people or even as janitors and such.

Here’s an idea; why don’t all those bleeding hearts countries scrutinizing Qatar offer the laborers jobs? Maybe Sharon Borrow can talk to Tony Abbott and the rest of common wealth about that.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I’m not saying it’s Qatar’s fault I’m merely stating the obvious situation they are in. It’s a world wide problem. As far as Tony Abbot is concerned don’t even start me on that. As a citizen of Australia I am fully engaged in agitating for change and highlighting the absolute shameful and in humane treatment his government is subjecting asylum seekers too. Australia’s human rights history is not great but I acknowledge it and push for reform through appropriate channels. Again I am not blaming Qatar or it’s citizens just highlighting the issues faced by migrant workers.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

If only it was that simple. Until the announcement of this proposed change, an indefinite contract, in my opinion, was a better option than a definite contract. But the truth of the matter is that no employment contract in Qatar is worth anything because it can be terminated by the employer at any time…no reason or compensation required (as per Qatar labour law)

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

I believe that per the labor law, every employer is entitled to an end of service gratuity depending on their years of service.

If the compensation is for the termination of the contract, well, people are laid off from their jobs all the time all over the world with no compensation what so ever. It’s of course depends on the what the labor laws say in each country, but unless someone can prove they were wrongfully terminated, it’s very unlikely they’ll get any compensation.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The problem is that the labor law here allows termination for no reason at all…therefore there is no such thing as wrongful termination. That in turn means the employment contract is worthless.

LAH
LAH
6 years ago
Reply to  Amber

They are not reasonable. All Employers need to do is hand out 5 year or indefinite contracts and then you are stuck for 5 years. That is exactly what they will do.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  LAH

Don’t sign it then.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

Yes that will definitely solve everything. Not!

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Yep dont sign and return to Syria, or Asia back to the village with no income to support the family, or Egypt…power imbalance is huge when contracts are negotiated. Its a lot more complicated then simply…dont sign them.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

So we have to pay for it? with our money and security? You’re not making sense.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Actually, you’re not making sense

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

This whole comment section and article is only one side of the argument, which is exactly why you won’t understand the bigger picture.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Well, help me understand then

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

DN should do a better job covering stories to educate their readers, maybe they can start by including all the parties in their articles.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Well they’ve made this comment section available, anyone can put their view forward. Go for it

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

No point in discussing on a platform known to be at one extreme.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Well please enlighten us with the other side. I am genuinely interested.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Oh, it’s called common sense you see. It proposes such radical ideas like not signing a paper before you read it and such 😉

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Well, if only we all had your wisdom

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

No not at all. All I am highlighting is that returning home is often not an option for some. Therefore the balance of power between them and the employer is unbalanced. If perhaps they were as fortunate as you and I they would not sign on.

KJD
KJD
6 years ago
Reply to  LAH

Learn to negotiate for what you feel is more acceptable. People need to stop blaming employers for everything and accept that they as an employee also hold some responsibility for their situation.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  KJD

That’s a reasonable argument if the negotiations start on an even footing but they don’t. Far from it in fact.

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago

Still one point is not clear at all. As of now, to change jobs, there are two options. Get NOC or leave the country for two years and come back. With reference to today’s proposed system, if someone is having indefinite contract and want to switch job before 5 years, he would still require NOC. But what if the employer doesn’t give the NOC in this case ? Again a two year ban or what ??? Can anyone answer it.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Good question. Don’t think they’ve clarified that yet, they just said you’d still need permission before the 5 year period ended.

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

Yes, this is what they said. You’d still need permission before the 5 year period, but what if the permission is not given. Blank____ 🙁

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

What’s crazy is that the situation for indefinite contracts is now more onerous than the existing system. I also wonder if some employers had inside knowledge. I know of one company that recently changed all contracts to indefinite.

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Very true..

Huw Nicholas
Huw Nicholas
6 years ago

I thought that it mentioned that the two year ban had been abolished? This would be good for mobile people, especially if timed right with end of rental contract and no loan. Not good for families who would have to start the process again of moving over – wait for RPs, find new schools etc.

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Huw Nicholas

Its still not clear.. Got one reply from @dohanews that either I would have to complete my 5 years or leave country for 2 years. Still not sure about it..

Gigi Varghese
Gigi Varghese
6 years ago

Farhan, an indefinite contract can be terminated any time giving notice period stipulated in the contract. You have the option to resign, cancel visa permanently, go back to home country and come back with a new employer on a new visa. No restrictions apply as two year ban is abolished.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Gigi Varghese

Ah, another fresh user, welcome, please do share your positive opinions with us

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago

financial wrongdoing…what does that mean

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

you took money that’s not yours, you didn’t pay back a loan etc

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

If an employee does loss for the company for example any loss in an order, does that also go into financial wrong doing…because some companies to pay for loss in an order..is that right thing to do

lebassoum
lebassoum
6 years ago

Very bad & sad to hear about complication of exit permit. in our company we were obtaining it in a moment. now you have to wait 3 days. what if the minister is expat and his mom died! while we are jailed those 3 days waiting them to give us the freedom to exit!!!!
poor country treating people as slave such as we are in big prison.

Qatar Rocks
Qatar Rocks
6 years ago

The new labor laws seems still in the favor of Employer…Same rules but twisted softly…

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Qatar Rocks

“favor”? – isn’t that a bit of an understatement?

Khurram
Khurram
6 years ago

hmmm..so if one has a loan from a bank and he resigns from his company. he was regular in paying his installments etc… so the bank cannot stop him from leaving the country temporarily but can his sponsor stop him just because he as a loan from a bank that he is not liable for?

Anon
Anon
6 years ago

‘Talking loud, saying nothing’ comes to mind………..

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Anon

All mouth and no trousers.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

a lot of smoke but saw no roastbeef ….

Bursin
Bursin
6 years ago
Reply to  fullmoon07

all retch and no vomit

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

Nothing of substance has changed. Wait for the international backlash..

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

exactly….Now they will understand the real story themselves

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

I am getting prepared to read some good stuff

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

Of course nothing has changed. They have moved it from employers to the government. Which in Qatar is the same thing

Humza Ahmad
Humza Ahmad
6 years ago

Grear Job Qatar announing the whole story without implementation. Now the people who already are abusing workers will have time to think how to play with employees for example re writing the contract of all the exsisting employees and making them unlimted one..

Farhan Khurshid
6 years ago
Reply to  Humza Ahmad

Scary thought but a realistic one.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Humza Ahmad

Doha gangnam style….op op!

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  Humza Ahmad

Or the people who have finished a 5 year period with their employer already might be asked to sign 3-5 year fixed term contracts before the new laws are put in place.

DT
DT
6 years ago
Reply to  Humza Ahmad

Hadn’t thought of that but you are totally right on…!!!

Humza Ahmad
Humza Ahmad
6 years ago

as far as exit permit system is concerned any employee putting application on MOI system without notifying will be stopped by emplorer stating he have important piece of work to do. which will make this thing to go to the arbitration and employee cannot leave on time. Worse we are talking about layman labour to file online exit permit request, good luck with that (Qatar come on they dont have computers)

Johnson Ellykudiyil
Johnson Ellykudiyil
6 years ago

They could have announced it, after getting complete approval, from relevant departments..doubt,.. it may take long time for implementation.

Big Biker
Big Biker
6 years ago

So nothing of any substance which is very disappointing and as others are saying all subject to further review and approval. Also the issue of exit visas being processed through the government and then further to be reviewed by the employer who can object to me seems a regressive step.

Mostafa
Mostafa
6 years ago

We really shouldn’t be looking at the proposed changes only from the critic point of view? compared to the current laws, this changes -if implemented very soon- would be a big leap forward for Qatar, it’s a good kick off for the change process that needs more steps in the near future.

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  Mostafa

You make a good point. To take a country that has been fixed on doing things a specific way for such a long time, into a new era, can take an equally long time. This may very well be step one of ‘the twelve step program’, and really only to ease employers here into realizing that not every employee is a criminal looking to run away with their company property, money etc. Change takes time, and can’t happen instantly without a massive backlash.

LAH
LAH
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Yeah, how long before the next step? 10 years?

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  LAH

Could be 10 years before this step is actually implemented, to be honest!

Desert Witch
Desert Witch
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Change only takes time when people take too much time to change.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Mostafa

Big leap forward? Please explain

taurz
taurz
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

A big leap, but we didn’t see the pit at the end of the leap..!!!!!!!!!

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  Mostafa

Are you serious! This will further damage Qatar in the eyes of the international community.

kubaru
kubaru
6 years ago

They are joking, right? This baby-step is to be the big change? This?

shafeek
shafeek
6 years ago

Is there any good news for ” Project visa ” holders who are not able to change their sponsorship to the new company, even if the current company provides NOC and needed papers.

Michael Greenhorn
Michael Greenhorn
6 years ago

Usual Qatar vagueness! so we are moving to binding contracts between employer and employee and exit permit only required if an employee is leaving for good? If so, this is good news, it means we all get the option to sign a new contract (within 1 year of this law coming into place, Sept I believe) therefor an option to negotiate new salary or look elsewhere in Qatar for a better contract. Stop whinging folks! things are moving.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

The problem is things are moving but in such tiny steps when there is so far to go.

Jason
Jason
6 years ago

And what is to stop employers from making employees sign indefinite contracts as soon as possible (before law kicks into place)? Refusers can then be terminated, refused NOC, and 2 year blacklisted under the current law. I can’t see employers insisting on anything less than the 5 year enslavement terms.

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

This announcement would be a good thing if:
– it is implemented as soon as possible.
– it is only a first step of many others that would improve and re-adjust the new approach.

I also think the 5-year commitment for indefinite contracts is a bit too much. If you are not feeling comfortable in your job and you happen to have signed an indefinite contract then I can’t figure out how you will be able to finish 5 years in that state of mind. I also find it nonsensical that your manager retains you for five years when he knows that you want to leave.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Two years would make more sense and should be adequate for an employer to recoup costs.

Passthebuck
Passthebuck
6 years ago

All a much ado about nothing really, approvals still required… sounds pretty typical really. So kafala to be eliminated, starting ‘by changing the name of the law’, yep that inspires confidence that real change will occur. Qatar should learn that underselling, but over-delivering works a little better than the oversell, followed by the usual disappointment….

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago

….Looks like nothing much has changed or ever will……Nick McGeehan, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, has reviewed the entire report and said it “confirms the serious problems

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago

All very disappointing I’m afraid, this was a huge opportunity for Qatar to show the people who have been invited into the country as guests to help build it that they are welcome and their human rights are recognised. I really hope my pessimism over both the timescale and the detail is misplaced.

sadam
sadam
6 years ago

Sugarcoating

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

opportunity lost !

Myrddin
Myrddin
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

More like opportunity deftly avoided?

Bornrich
Bornrich
6 years ago

At the company I work for we have a rolling contract, as I imagine many professionals in Qatar do. The announcement has in effect clarified that employees are now locked into a 5 year tenure with their employer. Prior to the announcement an NOC was negotiable between the employer and employee. And indeed, I have first hand knowledge of colleagues who successfully negotiated an NOC after as little as 1-2 years of service, often achieved through foregoing accrued holiday payouts or flights or staying on an extra month (or two). Now the employer can legitimately hold the employee for 5 years without issuing an NOC.

As far as I see it, the announcement today is a step back for everyone – a Lose/Lose/Lose.

The employer is left with a demotivated and resentful member of staff who may be, at best, unproductive, and, at worst, disruptive.

The employee is trapped in a job she/he does not want to be in at a salary that will not keep in pace with inflation and with little or no opportunity to ‘move up the ranks’ of promotion.

And Qatar, as a nation, suffers from a stagnant jobs market that will never create an environment for dynamic commerce in sectors other that O&G and Banking.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Bornrich

For the employees it is terrible but for the country it is a disaster.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago

It’s a 1st step and it’s in the right direction.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

Hopefully a first step. Things do not change quickly especially with the amount of work on Qatar’s plate. I would like for someone to have said that there was more change on the way during the briefing. Please correct me if they did. This could be a feeler. See how the public reacts and then introduce the laws with the changes as requested. Lets see. World is watching.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I agree. It’s a first step.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

If that direction is sideways…..

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Sometimes you have to move sideways to be able to move forward 😉

s2pidlaw
s2pidlaw
6 years ago

Still the same with a little twist but renaming or re-branding it won’t work…
“QATAR – THE MODERN-DAY SLAVERY STATE”

George
George
6 years ago

Be free to change job after 5 years? Come on this is a tremendous move forward. Sorry forgot to say that you will be able to to switch in 5 years if you manage to survive that long here! Pollution, driving behaviour, fires… It’s just a matter whether you will see these 5 years.

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago

we all believed this show today? I wonder what kind of articles will be on the international Press from tomorrow

Michael Greenhorn
Michael Greenhorn
6 years ago

So, new contracts will have to be implemented within 1year of these laws coming into force (sept 14) that means everyone is in a position to re-negotiate their contract, or choose a new one. So…to all u whingers out there, this is GOOD news!( freedom to negotiate higher salary or choose something else) apart from anything else, a change for the better and something to look forward to. I urge u all to read the full report before spilling out your negative BS instant reaction. Please, see the upside and if u cant, don’t wish for miracles that happen tomorrow.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Ground Control to Major Tom.

Huw Nicholas
Huw Nicholas
6 years ago

Does that mean that we all have a period where we are effectively free agents with a blanket NOC to work elsewhere; or, is it if we don’t manage to get the contract we want and don’t sign its effectively a resignation and you are out on our ear?

Jon
Jon
6 years ago

@Dohanews: did anyone say what will happen to multiple exit permits? I have the privilege of a MEP, will a similar system be retained? Sometimes you cannot just ask for permission to leave giving 72 hours notice, business dictates otherwise.

Why do I have the feeling that after considering these changes we were better off before?

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Jon

They’d be mad to get rid of that. Half the western expats would leave.

Edward
Edward
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

I certainly would. I have to assume that the multiple-exit permit system will remain as-is, but this may just be wishful thinking.

But, that aside, this is clearly a step backward for the single-exit system based on the information provided so far. I am very afraid of the “emergency cases will be handled separately” clause. Having to get government approval — as opposed to the current system where a single exit is issued by default — can be nothing other than a disaster. I don’t look forward to the day when I have to tell a laborer whose mother just died back home, sorry, your exit permit is stuck in bureaucratic limbo. (In practice, I would probably just give everyone multiple-exits and suck up the cost.)

Even worse is the uncertainty about implementation. The government here (like most places) is obviously not capable of implementing things across departments very well. How many years of partial solutions, bureaucratic foot-dragging, lack of information, half-baked and ill-conceived system implementations, etc. will we endure?

Please, Qatar, just abolish the sponsorship system and go to a semi-free labor market like any modern country. Of course this would require a rule of law, including a functional court system, to enforce voluntary private contracts, and this region has zero track record of that.

AEC
AEC
6 years ago
Reply to  Edward

I think you may have hit the nail on the head here. Many of the problems in Qatar – e.g. enforcing commercial contracts – are rooted in the inability to enforce anything with a functional court system. Until that is in place it is hard to imagine how there can be long term change for the better.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  AEC

How? Couldn’t get out!

Victoria Scott
Victoria Scott
6 years ago
Reply to  Jon

No specific mention was made, but officials said “the current exit visa system” would now pass through the Ministry of Interior, suggesting that requests for these will also be processed by the MOI rather than by employers after the new law is passed. No sign of them being scrapped so far.

Jon
Jon
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Hmmm. All this has the makings of a mess of epic proportions.

However I am hopeful that the actual execution of the changes is managed better than the press conference, which – unless anything has been lost in translation – has fallen way short of expectations.

Shame really, when you see what the UAE managed to do in similar circumstances, just a couple of hundred miles down the road.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Victoria Scott

Victoria, can you please shed some light on the 72 hour issue? Is it for any temporary exit or permanent exit? Seems to be some contradictory info at the moment