World Economy

Qatar Labor Reforms Not Enough

Qatar Labor Reforms Not EnoughQatar Labor Reforms Not Enough

This October, Qatar’s Emir signed into law labor reforms intended to address the situation of migrant workers in the country. Since being selected to host the 2022 World Cup, Qatar has been under increased scrutiny from human rights organizations for its labor laws and unsafe working conditions.

The country is approaching the five-year anniversary of winning the lottery to host the World Cup; Qatar has been criticized in a recent Amnesty International report, Arab News reported.

Here are four reasons that Amnesty and other rights organizations find these reforms inadequate:

1. Constant delays in enacting already passed reforms has been a major complaint against the Qatari government. Most of the following issues included in the report are a result of the delayed implementation of already passed laws. Although the first round of reforms made to its labor laws were approved in February, many have not been implemented until recently, if at all.  

2. There is a need for a wage protection system that prevents employers from withholding wages or paying workers significantly late. By enabling payment through direct deposits, migrant workers can dependably support their families back home.

3. Expanding the labor inspector force to 400 is necessary in ensuring that the laws are actually being enforced and workers are not being exploited. This reform, though approved, has been postponed until the end of next year.

4. The kafala sponsorship program currently in place in Qatar has been likened to slavery, as it is used by employers to abuse migrant workers. Because of the kafala system, workers must get approval from their employers to change employment or obtain a visa to leave the country.

The Qatari government has been quick to reject the report as not accurately detailing the effects of the reforms, but it is evident that there remain legitimate reasons to be concerned over the conditions of migrant workers in Qatar.