Qatar Refashions Kafala System, Approves Minimum Wage Law

On Thursday, the Qatar government announced the adoption of minimum wage law, it will also cut out the mandatory exit visas for all workers, part of a broad labor reform program, and prior to it hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar depends on two million migrant workers, the migrants make up most of the labor force, and however, it is also planning on loosening restrictions on changing employers, the administrative development of the state, labor and social affairs, as per the ministry.

Qatar, along with other rich Gulf Arab states has been under heavy criticism for poor labor conditions. As per the statement, the cabinet has approved new legislation, relating to the draft law on minimum wage, even though it did not reveal what the level wage could be.

In addition to this, it passed another draft law that will be a cause of scrapping of exit permits for all workers, addition of work was also under process, to allow employees to change their employers with more ease.

Last year, Qatar abolished exit visas for a few foreign migrant workers, but the rights groups labeled the reform ‘incomplete’, as it didn’t apply to domestic workers and enabled companies to implement the visa requirements for 5% of the staff.

International Labor Organization labeled the reforms as  ‘a momentous step forward in upholding the rights of migrant workers’ and said that their aim was to end the ‘kafala’ or sponsorship system.

The system is common in the Gulf States, where a major part of a population is foreign. In Qatar, it is important to know what employers’ consent before changing jobs, this as per advocate groups, leaves them vulnerable to abuse.

“These steps will greatly support the rights of migrant workers while contributing to a more efficient and productive economy,” – the ILO said in a statement.

The new reforms are expected to be implemented by January 2020.


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