Qatar has exerted great efforts to establish good practices in the worker recruitment process through a package of legislative reforms, HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Yousef bin Mohamed al-Othman Fakhro has said.
He also noted that the country is continuing to work on developing procedures that will entrench the principles of fair recruitment and combat all means of exploitation and deception, including methods that may lead to forced labour or human trafficking, the official Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.
The observations came during a speech by the minister at the fair recruitment forum organised by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs on Monday, held in partnership with the International Labour Organisation and the US Department of State, in co-operation with Qatar Chamber (QC) and the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.
This was the "first and most important event" in Qatar at the regional and global level, which brought together senior officials from public institutions in various sectors of the country concerned with issues related to the payment of recruitment fees, the report said.
The minister noted that the forum was concerned with studying and reviewing the efforts exerted to ensure fair recruitment procedures and raising awareness of the Qatari labour law, which prohibits the imposition of recruitment fees on workers, as well as to ensure that workers do not bear any financial costs imposed by agencies and recruitment companies other than those provided for by law, and adopt the necessary measures and procedures to ensure smooth, fair, transparent and legal employment.
Further, he said a number of agreements and memorandums of understanding have been signed with labour-exporting countries in order to achieve the highest standards and conditions of employment and fair recruitment, in line with international conventions and best regional and international practices in this regard.
The reforms adopted by the Qatari government in protecting the rights of expatriate workers, namely the promulgation and amendment of a number of labour laws, have all affirmed the prohibition of imposing recruitment fees on workers both within the State and in the labour-exporting countries, HE the Minister noted, adding that the application of this legal principle may not be easy, "but we want to become a role model."
"We look forward to holding more workshops to raise awareness about the need to combat workers' pay for recruitment fees and to co-operate in developing policies and tools, which will help address this problem by providing the necessary support on our part through the establishment of a voluntary technical working group composed of local national actors in the coming months. It will meet to discuss the progress made and discuss possible ways of co-operation in the application of labour laws in Qatar," he informed.
The minister stressed that through these workshops, "we will benefit from the pilot experience of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, which was able to provide - in co-operation with companies - compensation to workers involved in 2022 FIFA World Cup projects estimated at QR52.5mn."
He expressed hope that the results of this forum would be achieved and that efforts would be exerted by all parties to work on further achievements and reforms to provide decent work and living conditions for expatriate workers in line with the objectives of sustainable development of the United Nations and Qatar National Vision 2030.
Highlighting the importance of the forum, Qatar Chamber first vice-chairman Mohamed bin Ahmed bin Towar al-Kuwari said that in light of Qatar's keenness to safeguard the rights of workers and reflect the importance of their role and participation in advancing the development process, the State has adopted a package of fundamental reforms in recent years to ensure respect for and protection of labour rights, as well as a commitment to the highest standards of security and safety. It has approved a package of new laws and legislative amendments that have created an ideal working environment. Most notable are the law regulating the entry and exit of expatriates and the system of wage protection, the establishment of committees to resolve labour disputes and the abolition of restrictions on the freedom of exit of workers from the State, as well as the abolition of the sponsorship law.
In line with these developments, he said, QC was keen to organise seminars and workshops aimed at raising awareness of legislation and laws related to labour issues, and to inform business owners and representatives of the basic principles of human rights and workers and urged them to adhere to them. Also, QC was keen to highlight the achievements of Qatar in this area to the foreign trade delegations it hosts.
"Qatari private sector companies and institutions are committed to laws and regulations pertaining to expatriate labour. We in Qatar are satisfied with the private sector's response to labour market reforms. We have seen the full co-operation of local companies in implementing this legislation on the ground," he added.
Al-Kuwari stressed that the Qatari labour law has helped put the State on a list of countries where expatriate labour is of great importance, thanks to the directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, , as the law strictly prohibits the imposition of any kind of fees on the applicant for recruitment.
He expressed hope that the forum would produce results and recommendations that would promote the fair recruitment of foreign workers.
William Grant, charge d'affaires at the US embassy in Qatar, praised the efforts made by Qatar in supporting the principle of human rights, congratulating the State on its achievements in this regard and the role played by the country's leadership as an example in the field of human rights protection.
He highlighted the importance of co-operation between the US and Qatar in protecting workers' rights, calling on employers and the private sector to co-operate in order to prevent workers from paying any recruitment fees within the framework of establishing the concept of fair recruitment.
He noted that the US provides support and training to its partners in Qatar within the framework of constructive co-operation between Washington and Doha in various fields.
Sharon Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said in a televised speech that Qatar has taken remarkable decisions to preserve the rights of workers. It has abolished exit permits, established a system of contracts as well as the dispute settlement system, and issued decisions to establish joint labour committees and set a minimum wage that guarantees workers a decent life. There is also a fund to support workers.
In general, Qatar has had remarkable achievements in the area of wage protection, she added.