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Qatar: Campaigners & unions welcome "historic" labour laws that could end exploitative Kafala system

On 30 August Qatar made "historic" changes to its labour market, as it ended the requirement for migrant workers to obtain their employer’s permission to change jobs. At the same time, Qatar also passed legislation to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage, the first country in region to do so.

Following the adoption on 30 August 2020 of Law No. 18 of 2020, migrant workers can now change jobs before the end of their contract without first having to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer. The ILO said that this "new law, coupled with the removal of exit permit requirements earlier in the year, effectively dismantles the “kafala” sponsorship system.."

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said: “Qatar has regularised its industrial relations system and dismantled the systematic power imbalance between workers and employers. These changes are a break with the past and offer a future for migrant workers in Qatar underpinned by laws which respect workers, along with grievance and remedy systems,”

Law No. 17 of 2020, establishes a minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals (QAR) which will enter into force six months after the law’s publication in the Official Gazette. The new minimum wage will apply to all workers, of all nationalities and in all sectors, including domestic workers.

Campaigners welcomed the new laws but Amnesty and Migrant-Rights.org both emphasised that full implementation will be the key to ensuring the exploitative sponsorship system is fully dismantled.

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