The Qatari authorities have taken a significant step towards protecting migrant workers by passing two laws which could strike at the heart of the abusive kafala system, but full implementation remains key if the country aims to truly end labour exploitation, Amnesty International said.
The Emir of Qatar today abolished restrictions on migrant workers changing jobs without their employer’s permission and introduced a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyal, plus basic living allowances for some workers.
“For too long, laws that ban workers from changing jobs without their employer’s permission, along with widespread low pay, have left migrant workers in Qatar at the mercy of abusive employers. We welcome the enactment of these laws, and now call on the Qatari authorities to ensure they are swiftly and properly implemented,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Head of Economic and Social Justice.
“If implemented as promised, the removal of restrictions on workers changing jobs should make it easier for workers to escape abuse. This is an encouraging sign that Qatar may finally be heading in the right direction, and we call on Qatar to go further with these reforms, including removing the charge of absconding, to make sure that the rights of all workers are fully protected.”
The two reforms were first announced by the Emir of Qatar in October 2019 and were signed into law today.
The first will abolish the ‘No-objection certificate’ which prevents migrant workers from changing jobs without the permission of their employer. Under the new law, workers will be able to leave their job by providing a one-month written notice if they have worked for the employer for less than two years, or a two month notice if they have worked for them for longer. The worker will not have to pay these costs, and the transfer request would be processed by the Ministry of Labour.
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