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Posted On: 30 July 2018 07:56 am
Updated On: 26 May 2020 07:05 pm

How to complain when it comes to unpaid or delayed salaries in Qatar [UPDATED]

Khadiza Begum
Khadiza Begum
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Qatar-workers

The Wage Protection System (WPS) ensures that workers in Qatar receive their salaries through an electronic salary transfer system which allows companies and institutions to pay employees via banks that have been approved and authorized to provide the service. The system has been developed by the Qatar Central Bank. It allows the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA) to maintain a database that records wage payments in the private sector, and guarantees payments are made in full and on-time. The WPS includes all institutions and companies registered with the Ministry across all sectors and industries.

(A construction worker taking a break on the Pearl GTL construction site. Photo credit: Shell/Flickr)

The WPS includes the monitoring of payments made to employees of over 50,000 companies in the country. In order to monitor the WPS, the Ministry has a Department of Wage Protection.

Prior to its implementation, the Labor Department fielded numerous complaints of salaries not being paid or inordinately delayed. Therefore, the government decided to protect employees by ensuring they're paid on-time and thus encouraging a safe work environment. It was from this that the WPS was formed.

Worker exploitation

Large firms have minimum standards, and salary payments are not an issue with the majority of them. However, with smaller companies, including sub-contractors, there have been instances where these companies have abused the privilege of operating in Qatar and often ended up exploiting their workers -- mainly by delaying wages or, sometimes, even not paying them at all.

The question is, has the WPS helped to alleviate this, or have loopholes been found?

(Photo credit: crescentstar/flickr)

Migrant-Rights.org spoke to a cross-section of workers in Qatar employed by sub-contractors on their experience with the WPS. Ravi, a restaurant employee said:

“My bank card (ATM) is with the boss. They deposit the salary on-time and withdraw with the card as well. We are paid only in cash during the second week of the month. On some occasions the salary has been delayed by a month.”

But bank cards of employees are not with the boss all the time. He keeps some and returns others. Cards are usually taken when we go on vacation and kept for a few months even after we return,” added Ravi.

Afzal, a driver with a limousine company, said:

“Until last month, cards of some of us were with the company and salary was paid in cash. Now, they have returned the cards but we do not know if they will be taken back or not. When they keep the cards, salaries are always delayed.”

These statements send out a clear message -- proper investigations need to be carried out in order to find out which companies are not abiding by the WPS.

Penalties and fines for violating companies

Failure to comply with Article 66 of the Qatar Labour Law can incur penalties. These are (i) imprisonment of up to one month, and/or (ii) a fine of QR 2,000 and QR 6,000, or any of these two penalties.

For an employer to be put behind bars, an individual would need to be joined as a party to the claim. This person is usually a general manager or an authorized signatory.

(Image for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: iStock by Getty Images)

An employee who has had to forgo wages can make a claim with the Labor Court. If an employer does not transfer payments using the WPS within seven days of their due date, the Minister can suspend the issuance of new work permits to the employer and/or suspend all dealings with the Ministry. This is subject to the suspension, not including the authentication of any job contracts.

Companies need to comply with the WPS or else they will not be able to interact with the Ministry at any level for crucial work like visa change, work permits, and other services. A suspension can only be removed by the Minister or his designee, and only once an employer submits proof that unpaid salaries have been transferred and received.

What to do if your employer is not paying your salary?

(Image for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: iStock by Getty Images)

The Qatar Labor Law guarantees rights and payments of labor to employees of all nationalities. Employees who are working in different companies and institutions inside Qatar can submit a labor complaint to the Work Relations Department of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor, and Social Affairs (MADLSA) in case of any dispute between them and their employers.

Additional information: You can review Law No. 3 of 2014 amending certain Provisions of the Labor Law promulgated by Law No. 14 of 2004.

[UPDATE] How to submit labor complaint to MADLSA

How to submit labor complaint to NHRC

The mission of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) is the protection and promotion of human rights for everyone, subject to the jurisdiction of the State of Qatar (citizens, residents, and transit travelers). Those who feel their rights are violated may file a complaint to the NHRC to take necessary action.

Online

  • Fill out the online form, entering all the required information.
  • Click on 'Submit'.

In-person

  • Write your complaint clearly in the online form, then submit it in person to the NHRC.
  • Provide your contact information, including phone number, email, and address.
  • Attach a copy of your identification card (for Qataris) and a copy of your passport or visa (for non-Qataris), attaching any related documents to support your complaint.

Service center: NHRC premises (Check Google Maps).

Additional information: You may also send the complaint form after printing it along with the supporting documents by fax to (00 +974 444-44013) or email it to [email protected].

Watch this video to find out more on what to do if you're not getting paid in Qatar!

Coronavirus situation in Qatar

To curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the State of Qatar has implemented restrictions to promote physical distancing restrictions and to help flatten the curve. This included flight restrictions, closure of non-essential businesses, and stopping Metro and bus services, just to name a few.

The economic repercussions of the pandemic on businesses resulted in layoffs, salary cuts, and even delayed salaries even with H.H. the Amir's financial and economic package to help the private sector.

To mitigate social and economic damage during this crisis, MADLSA released a statement directed to employers and workers which states that:

  • For businesses who have not stopped due to COVID-19 restrictions: Employers should continue to pay basic salaries and other allowances, such as food and housing, as per their contract
  • For businesses who have ceased services due to COVID-19 restrictions: Employers and workers can agree that workers take unpaid leave, apply their annual leave, or reduce working hours, as follows:
    • In cases where employers provide food and/or housing directly, they must continue to provide food and housing free of charge to workers. Employers and workers cannot agree to cancel or reduce these benefits.
    • In cases where employers offer food and/or housing allowances, they must continue to provide these allowances, and employers and workers cannot agree to cancel or reduce these allowances.

In addition, it also mentions that:

  • All workers who are isolated or quarantined who are receiving treatment shall receive their basic salary and allowances regardless of whether they are entitled to sick leave or not.
  • Employers may terminate employment contracts, based on the contract concluded between them and in full compliance with the provisions of the Labour Law, while adhering to the notice period and paying all outstanding benefits, including the return ticket.
  • Even in cases where workers’ contracts are terminated, employers are required to provide workers with adequate food and housing free of charge, or equivalent cash allowances, until the workers’ repatriation procedures are secured at the employer's expense.

In this regard, MADLSA affirms the importance of cooperation between each other during this force majeure conditions. Employers should communicate clearly to their employees what the current situation of the company is and should find solutions that will be best for both parties until the end of these circumstances.

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While it is the duty of employers to pay their employees wages, it is also important for the clients of the company to pay on time the services rendered or the products that they are getting. Even before the coronavirus, there have been instances where clients are taking too long to pay, and as a result, making it tougher for companies to be able to pay their employees' salaries.

Have you faced any issues with the WPS? How has the WPS system helped you? Drop us a line in the comments below and let us know. Also, don't forget to like and share this article.

(Cover image for illustrative purposes only. Image credit: iStock by Getty Images)