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Posted On: 7 September 2014 01:34 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:14 pm

Worker-friendly sponsorship reforms ‘soon’

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The Qatar government will put in place more labour-friendly reforms in the coming months, HE the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi promised yesterday.

“Sponsorship-related reforms could be expected soon as part of the government’s commitment to improve the working conditions of the labourers,” he told Gulf Times on the sidelines of a free medical camp organised by the Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF).

“Qatar is committed to introduce a number of reforms to protect the interests of the country’s work force,” the minister explained.

Qatar announced on May 14 this year its “intention” to reform the prevailing Kafala (sponsorship) system with a set of new amendments to the existing labour law.

The amendments will impact “all” migrant workers after it is approved by the government after going through its “legislative cycle”.

Apart from the “renaming” of the “Kafala” law and dropping the word “sponsorship” from it, the major changes proposed in the new labour law, are:

l modifications to the exit permit system whereby employers’ “consent” would no longer be required and;

l the no-objection certificate (NOC), presently required by a worker when he switches jobs, would be governed strictly by an “employment contract system”.

The current exit permit system, which requires employers’ consent for an employee to leave the country, has been proposed to be replaced with an automated system that would require only the consent of the Ministry of Interior.

The Metrash 2e-government system will “automatically” grant an exit permit to an employee after his/her 72-hour “grace period” prior to departure ends.

Human Rights Department director Col Abdullah Saqr al-Mohannadi had said that although the exit permit would no longer be in the hand of employers, the employee should notify the employer of his intention to exit the country.

In the case of a dispute between the employer and the employee, a special committee comprising the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour would resolve the issue within 72 hours of submission of such a request, he added.

The proposed amendments to the labour law and system would apply to all migrant workers in Qatar, including domestic workers and unskilled labourers, according to Brigadier Mohamed Ahmed al-Atiq, assistant director general of General Directorate of Border, Passports and Expatriate Affairs.

“The current stipulation that workers need to leave Qatar for two years before getting the permission to work for a new company would also be abolished. Eventually, workers, who leave the country, could enter again on a new work visa and new work contract, unless there were other pending legal issues,” he had explained.