Non-payment of salary a crime - Qatar's Human Rights body
Employers who default in payment of workers’ salaries should be charged with committing a serious offence and punished accordingly, Qatar’s human rights watchdog has said.
Chairman of the National Human Rights Committee, Ali bin Simaikh Al Merri, said that the committee has asked the authorities to make amendments in the labour law to make a delay in payment of workers’ salaries a crime.
He said the Committee, in its annual reports, had also been demanding fixing of a minimum wage for workers in Qatar.
"Our job is to give proposals to the authorities concerned and only the government can implement them," Al Merri said.
"We are following up (on such issues) and we feel a serious intention on the part of the government to improve the situation of labourers as well as the work environment."
He said the initiatives were not taken in response to criticism from the international community.
Efforts were being made to improve the situation of workers even before Qatar won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
However, the NHRC, as the country’s human rights watchdog, expects more from the authorities in this regard, he added.
Al Merri appreciated the initiative of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, which on Tuesday released a set of standards related to salaries and accommodation of workers employed in sports projects associated with the World Cup.
"The new standards indicate that the issue of improving the labour situation is being taken seriously. It is a positive step by the government, but the judgment has to be made based on whether the standards and requirements are implemented on the ground. The role of the NHRC is to monitor and keep a track of what has been implemented,” said Al Merri.
Regarding the sponsorship system, he said, "the committee concerned is still studying the sponsorship law to see it in a balanced way from the perspective of the workers as well as the sponsors."
Asked if the NHRC had made any recommendation in this regard, Al Merri said “we have been demanding implementation of international standards.”
On the proposed law to regulate domestic helps, Al Merri said there was coordination with other GCC states on this issue.
It is no doubt a very good move by the Qatari government and if the law is enforced, it will definitely bring much relief to the workers who sweat in the summers heat and bear the chill of the winter to complete their jobs. When some of such employers get punished for this act, a clear message will go through to others forcing them to change their ways. However, one thing that should be kept in mind is that crooks are crooks and they will always find a way out to beat the law. I saw a similar situation in S Arabia several years back where manpower suppliers were reputed for not paying salaries for months to their employees. Several reputed companies put in a regulation making it mandatory for manpower suppliers to provide documentary proof of payment of salaries to their employee before they could collect their checks. The proof of payments of salaries was provided to the companies and checks got collected. But in reality on the ground, the situation remained unchanged. The workers were forced to sign their salary receipts without actually collecting the money, to avoid being sent home. No worker wanted to go home as they had spent heavily on buying a visa in their home countries, and so they complied to the unfair demand of their employers. It was arm-twisting policy.
There is always a flaw in every law and the crooks know how to make full use of it!
However, the world has definitely gone much ahead by this time and I am confident the Qatari government will do everything to protect the rights of workers here. This is no doubt going to be a major step which will be much welcomed.
Why is it possible that in 2014 it can be legally possible for a company to not pay wages, and not be punished?
Why isn't this a crime? I find it amazing to believe that the law here can't punish employers for not paying staff. But this is Qatar, so Expect Amazing!
i wish this could be in reality to reduce abused expat workers in this country.