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Posted On: 13 May 2013 12:39 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:12 pm

Expats seek to curb ‘misuse’ of labour law

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Concerned over the reported practice among some employers to try and prevent former staffers from taking up fresh jobs in Qatar even after the end of the two-year ban period, a section of expatriates has urged the authorities to introduce relevant provisions to curb the “misuse” of the local labour rules. It has come to light that such employers apply for visit visas in former workers’ names on getting information that they are seeking to return to Qatar with new jobs. They do this to prevent former employees whom they dislike from working with a new employer in this country, it has been alleged. According to the rules, a person cannot return to Qatar to work for a period of two years after quitting his previous job, cancelling the visa and leaving the country. After that, the person is free to seek fresh employment in Qatar. Using the former employees’ passport details, which are available in their HR departments, companies apply for visit visas in their names without informing them. When the prospective employers of these people try to apply for a work visa, they learn that someone else has already applied for a visit visa. “This is being done to deliberately block the entry of individuals, whom their former companies do not like, even after their two-year employment ban period ends,” said an affected individual. “Some companies, it seems, continue to harass former employees who have left the country after cancelling their visas. They resort to methods such as applying for visit visas in their names even after the two-year ban period on seeking employment ends. The clause of restrictive covenants in Article 43 of Qatar’s Labour Law stipulates that a worker shall not compete with his previous employer or participate in any business establishments, which are in competition with him, even after the expiry of his contract for a maximum period of two years,” said legal expert and Migrant Asia Regional convener Nizar Kochery. While Article 43 has been framed with the good intention of protecting the business interests of companies, there have been instances of some employers “misusing” the same to suit their interests. “What’s the point in blocking the re-entry of an ex-worker if he was in no way involved in key business activities or handled vital departments in his former company?” the legal activist argued. While favouring the introduction of provisions to protect the interests of people applying for jobs in the country after the two-year ban period, Kochery said the embassies of the affected individuals’ countries should be empowered to raise such issues with the local authorities. “If there is a provision in the labour law that allows individuals affected by such tactics (visit visa application) to raise the matter with the local authorities through their respective embassies in Doha, such unhealthy practices can be effectively checked,” said Kochery. “The affected individuals learn about such malpractices only when their new employer starts the process of obtaining a visa,” he said, adding that it was unfortunate that some employers were resorting to such tactics at a time when there was a slump in the global employment market and it was difficult for those in the advanced age group to seek re-employment. When contacted, a diplomat of a South Asian country said such malpractices would be brought to the notice of the local labour and interior authorities at a meeting of a joint commission for employment between his country and Qatar, which will be held shortly. The diplomat said: “Why should an individual be stopped from entering the country to take up a job only because his previous employer dislikes his presence locally, even after the two-year ban period ends?” The aggrieved individuals also feel that there should be a provision to blacklist companies that resort to such methods.