The Philippine Overseas and Labour Office (POLO) has expressed optimism that the new law protecting the rights of domestic workers in Qatar will serve as a model for other countries in the Middle East (ME) to come up with their own.
“We hope to see other countries follow suit,” labour attache David Des Dicang told Gulf Times.
Law No 15 of 2017, issued by His Highness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on August 22, stipulates that domestic workers work a maximum of 10 hours and are entitled for a weekly off and a three-week annual leave.
Household service workers, including cleaners, gardeners and drivers, will also be entitled with end-of-service benefits, corresponding to three weeks wages for each year of service.
Dicang said the new law is a first-of-its-kind in the region, which guarantees domestic workers an improved working condition and covered by Qatar’s labour law.
“We want to see this happening in other countries as well because workers there are not covered by labour laws,” he stressed.
Under Qatar’s new law, hiring domestic workers requires a written contract approved by the department concerned at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.
Such move, Dicang added, will benefit thousands of domestic workers, particularly Filipino housemaids working in the region, including the GCC.
The Philippines continuously deploys a large number of housemaids annually not only to Qatar and its neighbouring countries, but also to other regions. Filipino housemaids are known for their quality of work, experience, and hard work, are in high demand in many countries, according to POLO.
With the new law, Dicang said the demand for Filipino housemaids in Qatar is expected to increase.
“Once the law is fully implemented and the mechanisms are in place, I believe we will see a marked increase (in demand),” the labour attache pointed out, citing that benefits such as gratuity and improved working conditions will entice more to come to Qatar.
Dicang also expects deployment of Filipino housemaids to Qatar once the process of adjudication in resolving disputes between two parties (employer-employee) is institutionalised.
“When people see the positive effects of this mechanism, how the law is being implemented and how it benefits them, then we’ll see a jump in numbers,” he explained.
The new law requires an employer to provide the worker with the adequate accommodation, clothing and medical care free of charge.
The worker must also be treated well, “preserving his or her dignity and maintaining his physical safety, and ensuring no harm happens to him, whether physical or psychological.”