Sponsorship or ‘Kafala’ system is used to monitor the expatriate worker. It requires all migrant workers to have an in-country sponsor usually their employer, responsible for their visa and legal status. But it is rumored in the local migrant workers communities that Sponsorship changes soon will be implemented.
The practice has been criticised by Human Rights organisations for favouring easy opportunities for the exploitation of workers.
According to the Economist, the migrant workers’ lot is unlikely to improve until the reform of the Kafala system, whereby workers are beholden to the employers who sponsored their visa.
In Qatar, about 1.2 million foreign workers, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines make up 94% of the labour force. There are five foreign workers for each Qatari citizen.
The Peninsula of Qatar reported today that lawyers in Doha are saying that the new Labour Law being out, the much awaited new sponsorship and exit visa rules are bound to be revised shortly.
The two laws are closely interlinked so it was necessary to amend the labour legislation first. The amended labour law makes it mandatory for all employers to transfer salaries of their workers online. A new format of typical contract is expected to be issued shortly so as to accommodate the new changes.
The format is expected to provide guidelines on the various conditions for sponsorship change and entitlement for exit visas permit requirements and waiver.
The new Labour Law No. 1 in 2015 is to be published in the Official Gazette and hence be applicable from the date of its publication.
“Although the Official Gazette is out monthly, there is no information if this new labour law will be published in its next issue”, said a lawyer.
“Most likely its publication would be timed with that of the new sponsorship law so the two can be implemented together,” the lawyer said. “Simultaneous implementation is quite likely because the two laws are so closely interlinked”, he added.
The Official Gazette containing all new decrees, laws and government decisions, is published by the Ministry of Justice.
“It is actually up to the Justice Ministry to decide in which issue they would publish the labour law,” another lawyer said.
These clauses will be a necessary part of all employment agreements considering that the new sponsorship law will most likely leave it to a worker to agree in wring with his employer on conditions for sponsorship change and exit permit requirements,” said the lawyer, adding:
“So all job contracts will essentially be updated to accommodate the changes expected in the sponsorship and exit permit rules, there is no doubt about it”.
According to the lawyer, speculations amongst/ the Qatari nationals are rife about the nature of the sponsorship changes coming.