The Shura Council held its weekly meeting on Monday under the chairmanship of HE the Speaker of the Council Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Zaid al-Mahmoud.
At an invitation from HE al-Mahmoud, HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs Yousuf bin Mohamed al-Othman Fakhro attended the session to explain the articles in Decree-Law No. 18 of 2020 amending some provisions of the Labour Law promulgated by Law No. 14 of 2004, and to present the ministry's viewpoint on what was stated in the general debate request submitted by a number of Council members regarding the change of employer and travel without notice for expatriate workers.
HE the Minister began the discussions, explaining that the ministry is currently seeking to develop legal legislation based on the Qatar National Vision 2030, and within the framework of implementing the national strategy projects so that the labour market is modern and dynamic and enhances the State's economic level to attract foreign investment and compete in global markets. It is also aimed at achieving balance in the demographics of Qatar in terms of the quality and size of the resident population, reduce the number of unskilled and illegal workers, rotate and retain skilled labour, while achieving legal guarantees for all parties that are compatible with international standards.
HE the Minister stated that the amendments have been expedited to accelerate handling of the Covid-19 crisis and its economic impact. The amendments are also sought in light of the difficulty of returning workers to their countries due to the preventive measures taken by the State, and the prevailing spread of the disease in labour-providing countries, adding that the situation did not allow workers to leave Qatar, which had a negative impact on the conditions of companies and workers.
He added that the amendment included introducing the benefits of free movement of workers in Qatar locally according to specific controls, and that the aforementioned amendments meet the required balance and justice between the two parties to the labour contract represented by the employer and the worker, as both parties have the freedom to terminate the contract with the obligation to compensate the other party, and with the employer's right to oblige the worker to a non-competition clause as a clause in the contract, and the worker must respect this clause for a full year and is banned from working for a competitor in the same economic sector for the employer, in addition to the possibility of adding other conditions and clauses to be included in an appendix to the standard labour contract to preserve the employer's right to compensation for the costs incurred by him in order to recruit and train the worker as well as any other costs.
HE the Minister added that the new amendments included setting rules and procedures by the Labour Ministry in general in order to define the mechanism and controls for the transfer and decide on the approval of the submitted applications, which are being studied to achieve flexibility in developing these procedures in a way that preserves the rights of all the parties. He affirmed the ministry's keenness to follow up on employers' observations regarding these procedures to develop them in a manner that preserves the rights of all parties.
Expressing the ministry's aspiration for more co-operation with the Shura Council, HE the Minister said receiving its constructive views and proposals and considering them in developing procedures and amendments achieve the common goal to reach more economic prosperity for the State in the future, and support the preservation of the rights of all parties in the labour market.
In his response to queries of the members of the Council, HE the Minister explained that getting rid of illegal workers comes at the forefront of the ministry's priorities and that there are radical solutions to this matter, and announced that a study is underway to classify companies. He also clarified that the aforementioned Decree Law No. 18 of 2020 amending some provisions of the Labour Law promulgated by Law No. 14 of 2004 is not concerned with domestic workers.
HE the Minister stressed that the transfer of sponsorship has rules, controls, and procedures that will preserve the rights of all parties, noting that the number of workers who requested a transfer is few and that those whose requests were approved are smaller, adding that the law gave the worker the opportunity to submit a request to change the employer, but this request is subject to approval or rejection after communicating with the concerned parties. He pointed out that there is a platform for the transfer of workers in co-ordination with the Qatar Chamber.
Discussions during the session focused on the new measures taken by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs in relation to the worker's transfer to a new employer. They included the period stipulated for the non-competition clause for the worker's transfer, as well as compensation for the employer for his expenses for bringing the worker and the proportionality of compensation with what the employer incurs in terms of material losses resulting from the failure of one of the parties to comply with the provisions contained in the termination of the contract without observing the notice periods. The discussions touched on the issue of illegal labour and the need to attract skilled workers.
After the broad and fruitful discussions, HE the Speaker thanked HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs for clarifying and answering the questions of the members. He also expressed his thanks and appreciation to the esteemed government for its response and for taking measures and controls regarding the movement of expatriate workers. For his part, HE the Minister praised the proposals and observations of the Shura Council members, stressing that they will be taken into consideration.
At the end of the session, HE the Speaker directed the joint committee of the Services and Public Utilities Committee and the Internal and External Affairs Committee to complete its report on Decree Law No. 18 of 2020 amending some provisions of the Labour Law promulgated by Law No. 14 of 2004, and regarding the request for public debate submitted by a number of members of the Council related to the transfer of the employer and travel without notice for the expatriate workers, in light of the clarifications made by HE Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs and the discussions with him during the session in this regard, in order to submit its report to the Council in preparation for referring its recommendations to the esteemed government.