Qatar abolishes ‘kafala’ labour system

Qatar on Monday formally announced the end of its controversial “kafala” system, arguably the biggest ever labour reform undertaken by the host of the 2022 football World Cup.

In a long-expected announcement, Labour Minister Issa bin Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi said the “kafala” rules would be abolished from December 13. He said a contract-based system to govern the gas-rich Gulf emirate’s 2.1 million foreign workers would take its place.

Under “kafala”, all foreign workers working in Qatar require a local sponsor, in the form of an individual or company, and need their permission to switch jobs or leave the country.

‘Modern-day slavery’

The system was compared to modern-day slavery and left vulnerable workers with little protection and open to abuse, critics said.

“The new law is the latest step towards improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar,” Mr. Nuaimi said.

Freedom of movement is guaranteed under the new rules, said Qatari officials, including giving workers the right to change jobs.

Any workers mistreated will automatically be allowed to change jobs, said officials. The exit visa formally needed to leave the country under “kafala” will be abolished, although workers will still need their employers' permission to go home.

An appeals committee has been established for expats who are denied permission to leave, and that committee will begin work on Tuesday.

The new law should also offer greater contract protection, officials said. — AFP

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 8:51:55 am |