Working in Qatar? Here’s how you can protect your rights

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It’s important for employees in any part of the world to know what they’re entitled to at their work place. In Qatar, the Labor Law - enacted in 2004 and amended in 2015 - is what protects employees’ rights. If any of these rights are not being upheld, there are dire consequences for the guilty party.

Qatar recently replaced its 'kafala system' - which was the sponsorship system that previously forced workers to seek their employer's permission to change jobs or leave the country - with a contract-based system, late last year. Many companies still take advantage of their employees, which is why employees need to report their issues.

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Here’s a quick breakdown:

1. It’s illegal to have your passport taken away by your employees or sponsors. Sponsors caught confiscating passports will face a fine of QAR 50,000 per instance to act as a strong deterrent to employers.

2. There are kiosks set up around the country (in multiple languages including Hindi and Malayalam), where people can read up on their rights and even report violations anonymously.

3. The Labor Law stipulates upon a number of different areas in regards to employment, such as wages, working hours and leave, safety, vocational health and social care, and more. 

For example: 

Wages: An excerpt from Article 66

The employer shall not be relieved from his obligation to pay the wage due to the worker unless he has actually transferred it to the bank or the worker or his attorney has signed in acknowledgement of the receipt thereof in the register or receipt prepared for this purpose provided that the said documents shall include the details of the wage.

Working hours and leave: An excerpt from Article 73 and 74

The maximum ordinary working hours shall be forty four hours per week at the rate of eight hours per day with the exception of the month of Ramadan when the maximum working hours shall be thirty six hours per month at the rate of six hours per day.

The working hours shall include an interval or more for prayer, rest and taking of meals which interval or intervals shall not be less than one hour and shall not be more than three hours. 

The workers may be required to work additional hours to the working hours specified in the preceding article provided that the actual working hours per day shall not exceed ten hours unless the work is necessary for the prevention of gross loss or dangerous accident or for the repair or alleviation of the consequences of the said loss or accident. 

The employer shall pay to the worker for the additional working hours the rate of not less than the basic wage plus not less than 25% thereof.

Safety, vocational health and social care: An excerpt from Article 100

The employer shall take all precautionary measures for protecting the workers during the work from any injury or disease that may result from the work performed in his establishment or from any accident, defect or breakdown in the machinery and equipment therein or from fire.

The employer may not burden the worker with or deduct from his wage any sum in return for his providing these precautionary means.

If any of these articles are failed to be met, violators could face different penalties such as fines, closure of company and the cancellation of the license, and even imprisonment.

4. The Ministry of Economy & Commerce (MEC) conducts inspections to ensure everything is up to code and fines or shuts down businesses that are violation of any codes.

5. Qatar enforces a Wage Protection System (WPS), which has been initiated by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. Employees, no matter how low the salary, must have a bank account and their salaries transferred monthly. This is mentioned in the labor law as well. Any company that does not transfer a salary is automatically fined by the Ministry of Labor and is registered on a list for closer monitoring. 

Here are some ways you can report a violation:  

1. You can contact MEC for consumer protection, call 8005000

2. For human rights violations, contact 44048844 or visit to launch a complaint http://www.nhrc-qa.org/en/submit-a-complaint/

3. For passport and rights violations, contact your embassy. 

4. The Qatar Government contact center, 109 

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