Qatar, a major manpower destination for Bangladeshi workers, has announced reforms in its labour policy to ensure foreign workers’ rights amidst international criticism over the Middle-Eastern country’s treatment of foreign workers.
Expatriate workers will now be able to move to new jobs after their contracts expire under new changes as the current mandatory requirement to obtain a no objection certificate from the past employer has been abolished.“[The no objection certificates] which currently regulate transfer of employees will be replaced with an employment contract system. If the employment contract is for a fixed term, the employee may transfer to another employer at the end of that term,” a Gulf News report stated, quoting a press release from the Qatari interior ministry.
“If the contract is for an indefinite term, the employee may transfer after five years from the date of the contract,” the statement released in Doha yesterday states.
The Bangladesh embassy in Doha welcomed the move.
“The opportunity to change employers will help our workers to choose better jobs and earn handsome salaries,” Shafiul Azim, labour counsellor at the embassy,
He said tens of thousands of Bangladeshi workers would benefit from these reforms. He, however, added that the Qatari government needed to take some steps to increase Bangladeshi migrants’ salaries as expatriates’ income in Qatar is still the lowest amongst the six Gulf States.
“We have placed some recommendations – a minimum of QR1,500, fixed working hours, work safety and living conditions, etc,” the diplomat said.
Around one lakh Bangladeshis currently work in various sectors in Qatar.
The Qatar authorities have also announced an end to the controversial sponsorship system for foreign workers.
“The relationship will be redefined as between employee and employer instead of worker and sponsor,” the statement added.
Sponsorship systems for foreign workers exist in most Gulf countries, which employ millions of foreigners from Asian countries. The system has been strongly criticised by human rights groups.
Passport confiscation, a widely used practice in the Gulf, will continue to be banned, with fines on employers, who are found to confiscate passports, increased from Qatari Riyal (QR) 10,000 to QR50,000.
These reforms will also end the long-standing requirement that foreign workers have to obtain their employers’ consent before leaving the country.
This will now be replaced with an automated system through the ministry of interior, the statement said.
Source: The Daily Star