World Economy

Electronic Contract System for Workers in Qatar

Electronic Contract System for Workers in QatarElectronic Contract System for Workers in Qatar

Qatar will introduce an electronic contract system for migrant workers early next year, a top official was quoted as saying.

FIFA World Cup 2022 host is planning to have the system in place by the first quarter of 2016, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs official Mohammed Ali Al Meer told AFP news agency. He added that the e-contracts will make the workers more aware of their rights.

With the new e-contract system, the laborers will be able to access the government website by entering details such as their names or visa numbers and view their contracts.

The workers will also be able to read the contracts in their own languages, reducing the chances of them being duped by unscrupulous middlemen. Meer said that the service will be initially offered in 10 languages, including Nepalese and Urdu.

It is not mandatory for companies to sign up for the new e-contracts system but Meer said that the government is anticipating a strong interest from private companies.

Qatar, like other Persian Gulf Arab countries, is heavily dependent on labor from Asian countries to fuel its construction boom.  But human rights advocates have criticized the country for not according even minimum protection to its large number of migrant workers, often likening the condition to modern day slavery. Activists have been particularly vocal about Qatar’s Khafala sponsorship system that authorizes employers to confiscate travel documents of workers, stopping them from changing jobs.

Inadequate labor laws have also led to widespread abuse of workers at the hands of their sponsors, human rights groups say.