Qatar reiterated its commitment to institutionalizing effective labor reform following the latest report released by Amnesty International. The report, titled “Reality Check,” concludes that the 2022 World Cup host needs to do more to combat labor abuse.
The Government Communications Office (GCO) of Qatar responded in a statement saying that:
“From the outset, we have said that we understood labor reform would be a journey and not an end in itself. We have publicly stated, and restate here, our commitment to labor reform so that Qatar would have a suitable labor system that is fair to employers and employees alike…Far from seeing time as running out, the government of the State of Qatar understands further change is needed and we remain committed to developing these changes as quickly as possible, while ensuring they are effective and appropriate for our labor market conditions.”
The GCO stressed that the State of Qatar will continue to engage and work with foreign governments, both international and multilateral organizations, and NGOs, to ensure that its labor code meets international standards.The Qatari government response also mentioned the extent to which labor laws and regulations were being enforced. In just the first half of 2018, there were nearly 12,000 companies that were either penalized or banned from operating in Qatar due to labor law violations.
Qatar has taken considerable measures to improve both labor rights legislation and the implementation of the legislation. Qatar signed an agreement with the United Nations, International Labor Organization (ILO) to mutually cooperate to both enforce and strengthen Qatar’s legal framework to best protect migrant workers. The ILO has now established a field office in Doha, Qatar’s Capital to assist the nation in administering the reforms. Other recent developments consist of the removal of the exit permit requirement, formally establishing a minimum wage for migrant workers, and the implementation of a Wage Protection System (WPS).
Prior to this change in the labor code, workers were required to obtain an exit permit to leave the country. Law No. 13 of 2018, amended provisions of Law No. 21 (2015) and Law No. 1 (2017) that regulated the entry and exit of foreign nationals. Previously, all migrant workers were required to obtain an exit permit from their employer in order to leave Qatar. This move was termed a “huge step” by the International Organization for Labour (ILO). According to the head of the ILO Project Office in Qatar, Houtan Homayounpour, great progress has been made with regards to labour reforms in the country but the work is far from finished.
(Image Source: Argaam)