Qatar postpones major labour law reform to November

Qatar postpones major labour law reform to November
2 min read
21 August, 2015
Legal and media sources in Qatar have reported that a law guaranteeing migrant workers get paid on time has been postponed to November, after being set for this month.
Failure to pay salaries on time has been a major complaint in Qatar [AFP]
Legal and media sources in Qatar have claimed that a law guaranteeing migrant workers get paid on time will come into force in November, after it was set to be enforced this month.

The Wage Protection System (WPS), hailed by the Qatari government as a "significant" reform, which was expected to enter into force on August 18 after a six-month grace period for businesses to prepare for the new regulations, has been postposed until 2 November, according to Qatari daily The Peninsula.

The 2022 football World Cup host's decision to postpone the launch of the law - which is expected to have an impact on more than 50,000 companies, and hundreds of thousands of low-waged migrant labourers - came as some in the private sector were still not yet ready to guarantee fair and regular payments to their workers, said the paper.

Another Qatari paper, the Arabic-language Al Sharq, also reported the November 2 start date, adding that the banking sector had completed preparations for the scheme.
     Companies that do not pay salaries on time could face fines of up to 6,000 Qatari riyals ($1,650)


Under the new system, workers will be paid either twice a month or monthly, with wages electronically transferred to their bank accounts.

Companies that do not pay salaries on time could face fines of up to 6,000 Qatari riyals ($1,650), a ban on recruiting new staff and bosses could potentially be jailed.

Michael T Palmer, a lawyer representing international firms in Qatar, told AFP that labour ministry officials had informed the private sector of the date change earlier this week.

Failure to pay salaries on time, especially for blue-collar workers, has been one of the biggest complaints voiced by rights groups against companies in the energy-rich Gulf state.

A 2013 academic study, Portrait of Low-Income Migrants in Contemporary Qatar, found that around a fifth of migrant workers - who build the country's iconic skyscrapers and football stadia in the scorching desert heat - were "sometimes, rarely or never" paid on time.

The WPS has been used by the government as proof of its commitment to reform, in response to furious criticism of Qatar's labour practices since the controversial decision to allow it to host football's biggest tournament.