Sponsorship laws to be replaced in Qatar in DecQatar is expected to bring new Kafala sponsorship laws into effect from December in a move that is likely to make it easier for millions of migrants—including around half-a-million Nepalis—to switch jobs and leave the country. Qatar became the second largest recipient of Nepali workers in the fiscal year 2015-16.
Qatar is expected to bring new Kafala sponsorship laws into effect from December in a move that is likely to make it easier for millions of migrants—including around half-a-million Nepalis—to switch jobs and leave the country. Qatar became the second largest recipient of Nepali workers in the fiscal year 2015-16.
Gulf-based new portals reported that the new laws, which were approved in October last year, will come into force from December 13. No official announcement has been made so far, according to ArabianBusiness.com, a business news portal that focuses on the Middle East. The reforms were announced after rights organisations including Human Rights Watch criticised the Kafala system saying that it allowed abuse and exploitation of migrant workers by unscrupulous sponsors.
The revised law allows migrants working on fixed-term contracts to change jobs once their contract expires without the permission of employers. The migrant workers, however, will still require the permission of the government to change jobs, according to local media.
The new law also envisages prompt legal redress for abused migrants, ensures residence facilities for workers’ families and stringent punishment to employers acting against the laws.
Earlier, foreigners working in the kingdom had to wait for two years before being employed in Qatar again if his/her initial employer refused to grant a “no objection certificate”.
After the laws were unveiled last year, rights groups had said that the laws were still incapable of delivering the reforms pledged by the oil-rich kingdom. The legislation that regulates expatriates’ entry, departure and residence still makes it binding for foreign workers to get approval of his or her employer’s to travel outside Qatar or, in certain situations, switch to another job within five years of service if the contract is open-ended. But the workers can file complaints in case the employer denies departure permit.
Nepali workers, mostly unskilled, are working in diverse sectors of Qatar’s booming labour market contributing to the economy of both the sending and receiving countries. However, most of them have been facing severe forms of exploitation and are forced to live in squalid conditions. According to the Nepali Embassy in Qatar, around 1,600 Nepali workers have died in Qatar since 2000. Most Nepali migrants work in construction, security, hospitality and business sectors in Qatar.
What is Kafala?
Under the Kafala sponsorship system, a local citizen or a local company (the kafeel) must sponsor foreign workers in order for their work visas and residency to be valid. This means that an individual’s right to work and legal presence in the host country is dependent on his or her employer, rendering him or her vulnerable to exploitation. Gulf nations including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, United Arabia Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Jordan follow varying forms of Kafala to manage the migrant workforce.