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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Qatar’s Advisory Council reviews potential kafala changes

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

More than a year after Qatar authorities pledged to make it easier for expats to change jobs and leave the country, a draft law amending existing legislation has been presented to the Advisory (Shura) Council.

According to QNA, the council, which typically approves legislative changes before the Emir signs off on them, reviewed the draft this afternoon and decided to refer it to a committee for further study.

The news agency said the Internal and External Affairs Committee is expected to submit a report back to the council, but did not specify a timetable for this.

Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system has been widely blamed for enabling the abuse of expats at the hands of unscrupulous employers.

Currently, Law No. 4 of 2009 Regarding Regulation of the Expatriates Entry, Departure, Residence and Sponsorship requires foreigners to seek permission from their sponsors to leave the country – even on vacation – and to change jobs.

Changes

Last May, officials from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs held a highly anticipated press conference to announce what was billed as “wide-ranging labor market reforms.”

This included a pledge to shift the exit permit process to an automated system run by the Ministry of Interior.

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

Theoretically, this would make it harder for an employer to stop someone from leaving Qatar because he would have to present an argument to a government committee about why the person should be detained.

Officials have also said they plan to relax the no-objection certificate (NOC) requirement that expats currently need to change jobs.

Currently, individuals must leave Qatar for two years before taking another job if their employer does not grant them an NOC.

Under the government’s new proposal, 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, unless they receive their sponsor’s permission.

Looking ahead

The changes proposed last year fell short of the recommendations made by human rights activists as well as law firm DLA Piper, which the Qatar government hired to investigate the living and working conditions of the country’s blue-collar workforce.

After more than a year of debate and discussion, it’s not clear what amendments are actually contained in the new legislation. Officials cautioned last year that what was publicly presented were only proposals and may be modified before being implemented.

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

Before introducing any changes, government officials wanted to consult with Qatar’s business community.

Several observers have speculated that this has been one reason for the delay in implementing the changes, even though the country’s Chamber of Commerce said last October that it was prepared to back the changes.

But discussions between the chamber and government officials appeared to continue on into the new year.

In January, the Peninsula reported that some business leaders wanted to restrict the ability of engineers and senior employees working on mega-developments such as Msheireb to change jobs midway through a project.

After initially suggesting that the changes could be introduced by the end of 2014, Qatar’s labor minister has most recently said that he’s “90 percent hopeful” the reforms will be in place by December of this year.

Thoughts?

57 COMMENTS

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A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago

Didn’t I tell you alllll… It’s FIFA FIFA sharks weekend fun stuff then FIFA villagio kafala … Lol

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Honestly what else interesting going on? The opening of the first international conference on (insert_very_long_name) in the region or the launch of the bla bla program by Qatar University?

Saleem
Saleem
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Or the (insert_random activity for random charity_drive)

R.D.H
R.D.H
5 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

Lets not forget the dust expected for the weekend, very popular topic!

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

Or for achieving fatuous ‘world records’.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Ooredoo is having another promotion with Free data!

Now in very small print: free meaning up to 10mg free, the rest will cost you 25qr for each mg

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Or, LuLu has gone mango crazy! 5 tons of mangos have arrived at their airport location. “Let’s celebrate the month of mangos!”

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago

For real or you being sarcastic .. I love mangos .. Will check it out

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

There is now Pakistani mangoes in MegaMart and few other varieties (other than the usual Filipino, Australian, Badami and Kenya mangoes) in Safari Abu Hamour 🙂

AAM
AAM
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

or 5 of the same things to do every weekend lol!!!!!!

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Why don’t you propose about 5 alternative interesting stories for Doha News then. What would be top of your list of newsworthy things happening in or to Qatar?

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Yesterday one of the Arabic locals ran a story on increasing smuggling of drugs to Qatar and using HAMAD international as a transit point for smugglers from Africa to south east Asia. Also large portion of drug busts in Qatar don’t result in convictions due to arresting officers not following correct procedure or incorrect procedure in obtaining evidence ..

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

The Egyptian bank manager who was able to steal over 150,000 riyals by foreging old ppl requests for new credit card

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

5 members of a listed company in Qatar all received prison sentences due to embezzlement of funds

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

MMUP announcement on 57 new schools, three new industrial areas, 5 locations for low income housing… And 115 new mini mart souqs

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Lulu’s mango festival

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Announcement of action, or just mulling???

AAM
AAM
5 years ago

remove the number 9 & you will get 1% lol!!!!! if u are lucky

AEC
AEC
5 years ago

Too late?

Spirit
Spirit
5 years ago

The government should just make it possible for people to leave at will. Employers of large numbers of blue collar workers would be compelled to treat their employees better or experience the inconvenience of higher labour turnovers than their competitors. As for the white collar engineers mentioned; it would still be inconvenient for one to have to leave the country and return to take up a different position. Besides, the government could still make it difficult for you to return so they need not view this as a total loss of leverage.

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago
Reply to  Spirit

There is a saying that you can fool some of the people most of the time, and all of the people some of the time but never all of the people all of the time. If only this guys were aware of that instead of making a mockery and a joke of themselves

Simon
Simon
5 years ago

Mull, mull, mull, mull, mull, mull, mull, mull, mull (ad infinitum).

Qatar – the World Champions of Mulling.

Scarletti
Scarletti
5 years ago
Reply to  Simon

champions… and not a riyal changed hands ! 🙂

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

Whilst in other areas, however ……. (!!)

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago
Reply to  Simon

They should get a award for that. Looks like they will take like eternity to review and come to a solution and by that time the workers would have already left after getting fed up with a system that instead of helping the workers helps the employers abuse and harass their employees.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Yes. I’ve argued for years that making significant changes to the sponsorship / Exit system would actually be of benefit to the Qatari sponsors – but they are too shortsighted to see that.

Rane de Beer
Rane de Beer
5 years ago

You would think in a place where government is not shackled by constitutional democratic rules and processes, it should be easy to change any law. Why the delay?

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Rane de Beer

They have to mull. Individually. In committee. Then they have to mull the committees mulling.

Mutual mullerbation and all that.

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

“Qatar’s kafala sponsorship system has been widely blamed for enabling the abuse of expats at the hands of unscrupulous employers”. No. Lets tell it like it is. The Kafala was devised by the state of Qatar to facilitate the exploitation of migrant workers by the contractos by denying the workers a free and competitive labour market, with the intended result being that wages would be depressed and thus allow Qatar to develop at a fraction of the true cost. Far from being unscrupulous, any Contractors who did not subscribe to the system would be blacklisted and could not operate in Qatar. I assume the above article will now be rewritten to reflect that basic truth as much as I assume that any worthwhile changes will soon be implemented.

Akmal farah
Akmal farah
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

The Kafala system is more of a Kafala to the state of Qatar rather than a Kafala to the workers. Kafala means guarantee in Arabic.

A country that has 250,000 nationals who can not degrade their status to work in manual labor is forced to implement Kafala to ensure that the 1.2 million workers are controlled. This guarantees that at no time, planned work shall be stopped because of the fluctuation of workers. By taking passports and keeping Kafala, you enable a state of 250,000 nationals to control 1.2 million workers like a game of chess.

If Qatar, voids Kafala, not one project will finish on time. And by time, I mean within 3 years of the initially forecasted date.

Doc
Doc
5 years ago
Reply to  Akmal farah

Funny the rest of the world seems to cope quite well without enslaving people……..

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

The population of Singapore, as an example, is only 61% citizens. The remainder, obviously, are not. But I am unaware of any system in place to prevent foreign workers from freely leaving the country.

Despite that, they have managed to complete all sorts of remarkable projects on time.

Why is Qatar different?

sadam
sadam
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

becuase they dont complete all sorts of remarkable projects on time. hence ” some business leaders wanted to restrict the ability of engineers and senior employees working on mega-developments such as Msheireb to change jobs midway through a project.”

Doc
Doc
5 years ago
Reply to  sadam

Yet the companies can fire the engineer/manager for no reason at all………

Gaga
Gaga
5 years ago

This news is only just a press release to let the international people think that Qatar really cares on the welfare of its human workforce. Well, we all know what the real situation is. Kalafa reforms is not their priority, after all.

Kz
Kz
5 years ago

In UAE if you have an unlimited period contract, you can change jobs after 2 years. Plus if you’re salary for the new job is more than 12k, you can change jobs without waiting for 2 years provided you have a graduate degree. Compare that with 5 years irrespective of salary wont be a good deal.

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  Kz

In places outside the middle east, you can just change jobs. If you are an expat it simply means that your visa gets updated. Not so difficult to manage. A true labor market actually drives labor costs down not up based on the supply and demand. But again, this is a distorted market because of these systems and rules.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Yes. AND a proper labour market would also improve quality! That’s what these short-sighted business people simply cannot take on board. They’ve never heard of ‘win win’. Instead, the belief in a zero sum game prevails, such that if someone else benefits then I must be losing out (mustn’t I???)

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago

I think they should keep the exit permit for every expat who has a loan to pay. If you want to have complete freedom of movement, make sure you do not get a loan from a bank or from your employer. If you do, you are automatically flagged in the system and an exit permit is required everytime you leave the country. I think this way the system becomes fair.

Diego
Diego
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

That may be quite a few for those who earn a decent salary, and then none of the migrant workers would owe a loan.At one time when QF ceased to have the multi entry and exit permits and shifted to the current system there were 2 reasons given.
1- It was cheaper to move away from multi entry/exit
2- Employers did not wish to be held accountable for workers to skipped out.

A.D.A.M
A.D.A.M
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

And how do you gurantee the return of someone who took a loan, secured an exit permit and left the country?!!! Since when an Exit Permit is an assurance of someone paying their debts?! I could get a loan – the max i am entitled to – get an exit permit and never come back; then what?!!!

Yacine
Yacine
5 years ago
Reply to  A.D.A.M

It is just to make your employer aware that you are leaving. But I agree with you it hasn’t prevented people from taking loans and running away.

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  A.D.A.M

Perhaps the lenders need to professionalise their lending criteria?

Paul
Paul
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

Correct. But the system is not in place for people like you and I, its mains purpose is to prevent the labourers from running away upon arrival (once they realize they won’t get the agreed salaries or anything for that matter). These guys are not even considering a loan in Qatar.

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

In the real world (or the rest of the world) loans are provided to people and not backed by employers. The interest rates charged correspond to the risk involved in the loan. A high risk loan = higher interest rate. Instead the system here is not based on money supplies, risk, returns, etc. so you have this mess instead. Banks should be smarter. Putting people in jail because they go on vacation and have a loan is not a good policy. Not allowing people to leave to see dead relatives in Nepal for example….not a good policy. Linking that to the banking system…a worse policy. This emboldens the control over people and is akin to modern day slavery.

Doc
Doc
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Employers do not back a loan here? The company letter is only to state if the employee resigns or gets fired the company will inform the bank and pay all gratuities into the account.

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  Doc

So if your final paycheck is sent by your employer to the bank and you are not allowed to access that paycheck, that is backing a loan. It provides additional money as a guarantee. Its not the entire loan, but it certainly is something. That is not done outside of this region. Its a way of holding hostage money that was rightfully earned. The contracts with the banks on the loans here are based on terms (time) and interest and do not include provisions about repayment. This impacts people that transfer between jobs, not just ones that leave the country as well. But to my first point – sending money to the bank instead of an employee is in fact backing the loan.

Doc
Doc
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Though of course should the ‘Loanee’ leave the country there is no recourse for the bank through the company. That said I see where you are coming from

MIMH
MIMH
5 years ago

“Refer it to a committee for further study.”

In the next 20 years inshalla.

It ain’t going to happen, they don’t want it.

Transcension
Transcension
5 years ago

Oh the Kafala change is finally happening?

“the council, … , reviewed the draft this afternoon and decided to
refer it to a committee for further study.”

“A” committee? “further study”?

Ah, never mind, it is the typical “give an indefinite time period and let it somehow vanish with the humidity that will be blown by the wind next week” kind of thing.

Sumith
Sumith
5 years ago

It same kind of jock we are waiting for long time it will be effectiveing only who ever get less salary same of group of company’s employees never giving reliess (hence only Indian employees get relisse other no one else get relisse)
even there get better opportunity other company
if it’s possible do the needful ASAP.

AAM
AAM
5 years ago

“However, those who sign an indefinite contract would have to work for their employer for five years before being allowed to change positions, unless they receive their sponsor’s permission.”

Does this mean 5-yrs from the decree date or if you have already worked for +5yrs for the same employer even before the introduction of this law? I would not be surprised if the law states that the 2yrs or 5yrs story is only applicable after the law has been officially announced. Exciting times ahead, don’t you think!!!!!! Be prepared for some real surprises!!!!!!

Simon
Simon
5 years ago
Reply to  AAM

The surprise would be if this is not mulled to death,

Bolly or Jack
Bolly or Jack
5 years ago

I fear for the young Qataris if Kafala remains as they will be the greatest economic losers in the long run.

The concept of Kafala was a work around put in place whilst the expats and immigrants (decide for yourself which camp you are in) came into Qatar to provide skills and muscle to develop the country. Now this system has had its day. Although there are a number of important human rights issues around Kafala these issues are unlikely to be enough to sway the changes. The real driver for change needs to be economic. There needs to be an economic argument for the removal of Kafala. Having a restricted jobs market and a very high GDP per capita means that young Qataris can almost guarantee a well-paid job when they become adults. There is no competition for these roles and young Qataris know this. If you believe one of the motivators in school is to generate sufficient qualifications to secure a good job then you can see where I am coming from. Why work hard when you don’t have to because you have everything? I wouldn’t. It sounds like the curse of the lottery winner.

One way to solve this is to open up the jobs market to a fair and transparent process without NOCs, differential pay and conditions and jobs allocated to certain nationalities. This open market will mean that Qataris will have to compete at school to get the best qualifications to get the best jobs in their own country. They will have the advantage of local knowledge but this landscape will slowly level out. Moving from a constrained market to a free market will always boost the whole economy. The market should reward risk takers and the ambitious who can make money not the geographically advantaged.

Oddly those who can restructure the Kafala have the most to gain from getting rid of it both economically and for the young Qataris. I hope those in power in Qatar look after their future.

Bloodymer Zkizzoid
Bloodymer Zkizzoid
5 years ago

Same BS every time.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago

Interesting discussion, all! Closing the thread now.

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