Legacy contribution to worker rights in Qatar
Initiative description: Continuing to play a pivotal role in contributing to the technical cooperation programme between Qatar and the ILO to ensure compliance with relevant international labour standards and achieve fundamental principles and rights at work in Qatar.
Supported by the Technical Cooperation Programme of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Qatari government announced additional labour rights reforms in October 2020, and has passed several items of related legislation. These include provisions that set a non-discriminatory minimum wage of QAR 1,000 per month, and QAR 1,800 per month where the employer does not provide food and accommodation. This law applies to all workers, including domestic workers. Furthermore, the requirement of a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the employer has been abolished, enabling workers to change employers after a reasonable notice period. The Exit Permit requirements were also abolished for all workers, allowing them to leave the country, either temporarily or permanently, without permission from their employers.
The SC also works in close collaboration with Ministry of Labour (MoL) to support the wider labour reform process in the country, providing input through its representation in several committees associated with the ILO Mandate. In addition, the SC partners with MoL and the ILO to facilitate exchange and learning. For example, representatives from MoL and ILO have attended the SC’s Workers’ Welfare Forum elections to study its structure and impact, which influenced the development of joint worker-employer committees across Qatar.
The SC also collaborated with MoL and the ILO on a study investigating heat stress and mitigation measures in 2019. The research examined the heat stress management plan at the construction site of a FIFA World Cup™ stadium. The study found that one of the key reasons why stadium construction workers were at low risk of occupational heat strain was because they were empowered to self-pace and take breaks as part of the heat stress management plan. The research also found that the SC-developed cooling suit, StayQool, effectively reduces heat strain.
Following recommendations from the study, legislation in Qatar (MADLSA Ministerial Decision No. 17) has been implemented to further limit summertime working hours with work not being allowed from 10am to 3.30pm in outdoor spaces from June 1 to September 15, in comparison to previous legislation, which was 11.30am to 3pm from June 15 to August 31. It also specifies other measures to protect workers from heat stress such as annual specialised heat stress training to all workers before the beginning of summer (May), annual health checks, appropriate personal protective equipment and adoption of the Wet-Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) index as a reference to stop work in case the WBGT index rises beyond 32.1°C.
The SC is also in discussion with MoL on how the lessons learned from the Universal Reimbursement Scheme can inform wider practice of recruitment fee reimbursement in the country. There is also on-going discussion on the wider implementation of the SC’s comprehensive medical screening programme that would serve to enhance the existing medical processes in place at Qatar Visa Centres in workers' home countries.