A female employer and her children are accompanied by their domestic worker, back right, as they walk through The Avenues, an indoor luxury shopping center in Kuwait City 2010 Moises Saman/Magnum Photos

Qatar: New Law Gives Domestic Workers Labor Rights

Human Rights Watch
25 August, 2017

One victory on a long path towards dignity for temporary migrant workers. How it will empower migrant workers to obtain effective implementation remains to be seen.

“Qatar’s adoption of a new law on domestic workers provides labor rights for domestic workers for the first time, Human Rights Watch said today. Qatari authorities should enact strong enforcement policies and close loopholes that place domestic workers at risk of exploitation…

The law guarantees workers a maximum 10-hour workday, a weekly rest day, three weeks of annual leave, and an end-of-service payment of at least three weeks per year. The law does not, however, set out enforcement mechanisms. “It is a positive step, if long overdue, that Qatar finally enacted a labor rights law to protect its almost 200,000 domestic workers,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch…

Human Rights Watch has documented abuses against domestic workers in Gulf states over several years tied to the lack of labor law protections and the legally mandated sponsorship (kafala) system, which ties a migrant worker to a particular employer and does not allow a worker to freely change employers.

Abuses include unpaid or delayed wages, confinement to the employer’s house, excessively long workdays with no rest and no days off, passport confiscation, physical and social isolation, and in some cases, physical, verbal, or sexual assault by employers. Domestic workers, like other unskilled migrant workers, often do not speak Arabic and have limited legal protection.”

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