As part of the Qatar government’s ongoing commitment to improving worker welfare, the Cabinet has recently approved a law called “the workers support and insurance fund” which, as the name suggests, will introduce a workers’ support and insurance fund (“Workers’ Fund Law”). The Workers’ Fund Law aims to establish a fund that will (i) provide financial resources for the support and insurance of workers, (ii) in the event of disagreement arrange for payment of worker dues as determined by the relevant dispute resolution committees (such payments to reimbursed by the relevant employer), and (iii) support other activities and afford other protections to workers.
The Workers’ Fund Law could also introduce possible amendments to Article 7 of Law No. 21 of 2015, (“Expatriate Residence Law”), which governs the conditions necessary for exit and departure of foreign workers. The Workers’ Fund Law and the suggested amendments to the Expatriate Residence Law should afford workers more flexibility in their ability to travel in and out of Qatar, potentially making more difficult any unreasonable effort by an employer to bar the exit of a worker.
The Workers’ Fund Law also will for the first time prescribe a minimum wage for certain types of workers, and will require that identification papers be issued directly from the Qatari government, meaning that workers will no longer need to rely on their employers to process their ID’s and obtain permits. Additionally, the Workers’ Fund Law seeks to introduce a worker’s committee in each workplace and to establish a special dispute resolution committee to ensure that complaints are effectively addressed.
To ensure transparency and objectivity, the committees established pursuant to the Workers’ Fund Law will operate independently with supervision from the Cabinet. In addition to the other legislative initiatives launched recently, the National Human Rights Committee has welcomed these upcoming changes as a positive step towards protecting and promoting the human rights of foreign workers.