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Qatar wage system sees worker complaints ‘drop 30%’

Number of complaints against employers in Qatar drops ‘significantly’ under new wage protection system – ministry

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The number of complaints filed against employers in Qatar has “dropped significantly” since the introduction of a new wage protection system (WPS), officials say.

In the first 10 months of 2015, the number of worker complaints received by the government stood at 3,845. However, with the WPS fully enacted, complaints for the first half of 2016 decreased by 30.4%, according to a statement via the Qatar News Agency (QNA).

“We are pleased to observe the very positive impact that recent government initiatives are having on protecting migrant workers in Qatar. We are clear that challenges remain for a minority of individuals in this country, but these figures demonstrate that we are working hard to combat these issues through ongoing reforms of Qatar’s labour laws and practices,” said the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs, Dr. Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi.

Qatar has come under file for labour conditions in the country, and has banned cash-in-hand salary payments that some campaigners say puts workers at risk.

It implemented the WPS a year ago, obliging all private-sector employers in Qatar to open bank accounts for their workers and transfer wages electronically.

“The initiative is designed to end the ‘cash-in-hand’ culture that puts workers at risk throughout the world. In addition, it also grants new powers to the Qatari authorities to monitor wage payment, and ensure that migrant workers are being paid in full and on time, as stipulated in their contracts,” the QNA said.

Over 37,916 companies in Qatar are now fully compliant with the Wage Protection System, according to October 2016 figures from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs (ADSLA).
“The remaining companies, which employ approximately 15% of Qatar’s workforce, have also committed to joining the WPS, and are currently in the process of meeting all requirements. As a result, over 1.8 million of Qatar’s 2.1 million salaried workforce now receive their payment via bank transfer,” the QNA said.

“The number of uncovered workers is expected to drop in the coming months, as government labour inspectors identify remaining companies that continue to operate outside of the WPS.”

Al-Nuaimi said: “Throughout the world, some employers use cash-in-hand payment to exploit low-income workers. Through the implementation of the Wage Protection System, Qatar has introduced a paper-trail that ensures greater transparency and greater protections for workers at risk of being cheated out of full financial compensation for their efforts.”

Since the introduction of the system, 385 violations were issued against companies enrolled onto the WPS for failing to pay salaries on time. Punishments include fines between QR2000 – QR6000, and a prison sentence of up to one month, or both.

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