Ministry of Labour of Qatar has denied in a statement Amnesty’s accusations that its labor reforms have not translated into changes on the ground for hundreds of thousands of migrant workers.
“Amnesty fails to document a single story from among the 242,870 workers who have successfully changed jobs since barriers were removed in September 2020, or from the more than 400,000 workers who have directly benefitted from the new minimum wage through salary increases and other financial incentives,” the ministry said in response to Amnesty’s “Reality Check 2021: A Year to the 2022 WorldCup” report.
“Qatar has also strengthened its enforcement measures to safeguard workers and prosecute employers who fail to comply with the law,” The statement said.
Qatar labor reforms
Since Qatar decided to remove exit permits in 2018, hundreds of thousands of workers have left Qatar and returned without permission from their employer.
In addition, the country made improvements to the Wage Protection System, which protects more than 96% of eligible workers from wage abuse.
As well as, new visa centers in worker-sending countries have significantly reduced exploitative practices before workers arrive in Qatar.
“The number of inspectors employed by the Ministry of Labour has increased year on year, as has their capacity to thoroughly investigate working conditions and refer violators for sentencing in the labour courts,” the statement said.
The statement indicated that in the first half of 2021, 35,280 accommodation and worksite inspections were carried out and 13,724 penalties were issued to violating companies, including worksite closures, fines and prison sentences.
Moreover, 4,840 site visits were made by labor inspectors to raise awareness of the new laws among employers and employees, according to the ministry of Labour.
“Every year, more companies are held accountable for violating the law. Systemic reform is a long-term process and shifting the behaviour of every company takes time. Through its actions, the government is sending a strong message to companies that violations will not be tolerated,” the statement said.
“Qatar has never shied away from acknowledging that its labour system is still a work in progress,” it added. “The government is committed to engaging collaboratively and constructively with international partners and critics to further improve standards for all migrant workers in Qatar.”
The statement added that “no other country has come so far in such a short amount of time,” and that other countries in the region have now taken steps to introduce their own labour reforms, “following Qatar’s lead.”
“Qatar will continue to work constructively with a range of labour experts and practitioners to build on the progress that has been made,” the statement concluded .