Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) plans to enhance its migrant workers’ quality of life through a new welfare initiative aimed at curbing unfair employment practices, it was announced yesterday.
“Sweeping measures’ are currently being introduced across QF for the benefit of expatriate workers engaged in construction and other service activities. The main objective is to guarantee the rights of workers - from recruitment and until they are repatriated to their home countries.
The new regulations are based upon “a holistic and principled approach” that combines Qatari Labour Law and international best practice, a QF press release said.
Last October QF had signed the Migrant Workers Welfare Charter, which reflects the organisation’s “belief that dignified living and working conditions are essential to unlocking human potential and indispensable to the mission of raising the quality of life for all workers in Qatar”.
Engineer Saad al-Muhannadi, vice president of Capital Projects and Facilities Management, stressed that “Qatar Foundation aspires to set an example for the ethical treatment of workers nationwide. This is our paramount consideration when we are in the process of selecting and retaining business partners”.
The Qatar Foundation Mandatory Standards of Migrant Workers’ Welfare - which will help apply minimum requirements with respect to the recruitment, living and working conditions, as well as the general treatment of workers engaged in construction and other projects - is being instituted now.
The mandatory standards will be incorporated into agreements between QF and its contractors. Among the many unfair employment practices that QF is determined to curb are overcrowded living conditions and unethical recruitment processes.
“The organisation seeks to create an exemplary model for the ethical treatment of workers by guaranteeing that all contractors and sub-contractors such as labour suppliers, labour agencies and other service providers adhere to strict regulations and comply with guidelines,” the release said.
The welfare initiative also marks the establishment of a fully functional Workers’ Welfare Department, which falls under the scope of QF’s Health, Safety, Security and Environment Directorate, mandated to act as an in-house regulatory body, the release added.
It will effectively institute fair employment standards and ensure that all rules and protocols are being followed by respective parties, while pushing for continuous improvement and development.
The Workers’ Welfare Department will screen business partners based on their compliance with QF’s Mandatory Standards of Migrant Workers’ Welfare and retain their services based upon a regular assessment of their performance.
“With due diligence systems in place, QF intends to set a benchmark for the rest of the country and encourage others to support the efforts to develop a knowledge-based economy that is centred on the well-being of the community at large,” the release said.
These standards are the result of a collaborative effort among Working Committee members whose backgrounds include law, sociology, health and safety, architecture and management.
The committee is also collaborating with other national stakeholders such as relevant ministries and governmental agencies, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, QRail, Ashghal, and organisations such as Shell and KBR.
Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee technical director Yasir al-Jamal disclosed that a Workers’ Charter has been finalised and stressed that “the safety, health and dignity of all workers on our projects are a top priority”.
The new contractors and sub-contractors of QF must attend induction trainings to familiarise themselves with the mandated regulations. The organisational processes and policies for the recruitment and retention of workers will be regularly assessed.
Welfare audits will take place as an extension to ongoing health, safety and environment audits. A welfare audit will include but is not limited to inspection of the contractor and sub-contractor’s work site, accommodation site, review of employment records, as well as interviews with management and workers.
Subject to national law, violation of the Qatar Foundation Mandatory Standards of Migrant Workers’ Welfare regulations will entail corrective measures and may lead to termination of contract.
QF will be participating today in the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s Middle East Conference in Doha. The event will provide guidance on how to promote health and safety in the workplace.
Source: Gulf Times
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