Some 78 percent of expatriate workers responding to a survey on public awareness about main provisions of Qatar’s labour law conducted by Al Sharq Arabic daily said they had no idea what the legislation was all about.
Only a miniscule 13 percent of the respondents said they were indeed aware of their rights and duties as enshrined in the legislation, but a larger 19 percent of interviewees said they did not prefer to discuss the issue.
One of the respondents, Mahmoud Salah, who said he had been here for five years, admitted he came to know of the difference between open and closed-ended job contracts only after he was sacked.
“When I came here to work, I didn’t inquire about the provisions of the labour law and put my signature on the employment agreement blindfolded, without reading the clauses. I am regretting it today,” he said.
According to Salah, he was not aware all through his stay here that a worker who had inked an open-ended contract was not entitled to compensation if his services were summarily terminated.
A worker who signs a close-ended job agreement (in other words, a contract which is valid for a limited period of say, one or two years) is liable to get salary for the remaining contractual period if his services are terminated by his company during the validity of the contract. “This, I have learnt the hard way,” Salah rued.
A lawyer, Mohamed Riyadh said most private companies violated key provisions of the labour law and did not pay their workers strictly as per the provisions of the legislation.
“Most companies think they do not stand to lose anything by flouting the rules because they know if a worker complains to the authorities concerned about not having been paid properly, they (companies) would have to at best pay him the difference,” said Riyadh.
He said most cases in the labour tribunal were about worker-employer disputes over non-payment or delayed payment of arrears and complaints about working overtime without being paid extra were just attached with the main dispute.
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