Qatar’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has shut down 15 recruitment agencies over breaches of the labour law during 2014-15. The Peninsula reported that the ministry carried out a combination of routine and surprise inspection raids on manpower agencies following repeat complaints.
The 15 manpower agencies had their licences revoked for a number of reasons, including providing wrong information, not complying with requirements, violating the labour law and failure to correct mistakes after warning.
Fawaz Mohamed Nasser Al Rayes, manager in the Recruitment Department at the ministry, said when a labour law violation occurs, the agency is handed a warning and given 14 days to rectify the error, after which the case is handed to the legal affairs office of the ministry.
In June this year, the Qatari government pledged to clamp down on “dishonest recruitment practices” in the home countries of Qatar’s thousands of expat workers.
The traditional ‘kafala’ sponsorship system in place at present has long been criticised by human rights groups and trade unions as it places tough restrictions on migrant workers.
Workers are required to seek permission from their employers before changing jobs and in some cases employers take workers’ passports to keep them in a post.
Under the proposed amendments, due to come into force before the end of the year, expat employees would be allowed to transfer to another employer after finishing their contract period or after five years of work with the same employer if he or she has an open contract, subject to approval from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
“In all cases the rights of the employer who recruited the worker and the provisions of the work contract between employer and worker should not be undermined,” the draft law states.
It is understood the new regulations do not cover domestic workers.