E-salary system for Qatar workers starts tomorrow

Wage Protection System is expected to encourage timely electronic payments, and aims to improve migrant rights, especially for blue collar workers

Qatar will launch Wage Protection System on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015.
Qatar will launch Wage Protection System on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015.

Qatar will launch the Wage Protection System (WPS) on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015, in what is touted to be its most "significant" set of labour reforms to guarantee migrant worker payments. 

The six-month grace period for businesses to prepare the electronic system ends tomorrow. 

Rights groups, however, remain concerned regarding the implementation of WPS regulations. 

WPS is expected to ensure migrant workers are paid on time, through electronic transfers directly to their bank accounts between once or twice a month. 

The electronic system has been encouraged to ensure employers do not skip or delay employee payments, especially to the country's blue-collar workers. 

Yahoo News cited a 2013 academic study, 'Portrait of Low-Income Migrants in Contemporary Qatar', which found that around a fifth of migrant workers were "sometimes, rarely or never" paid on time.

Starting tomorrow, companies which fail to pay their staff on time face fines of $1,650 (QAR6,000), and could be banned from recruiting new staff, besides the likelihood of senior management members being jailed. 

Inspection teams have been set up to monitor the new system. 

Qatar's labour ministry said in May 2015 that WPS is part of the "significant changes" it will introduce as a response to criticism of its labour practices, which have been under the scanner since the Gulf state was awarded hosting rights for 2022 FIFA World Cup. 

Amnesty International's Gulf migrant rights researcher Mustafa Qadri said WPS is "a positive step in principle". 

However, Qadri added, tomorrow's deadline should not mark the end of efforts by the labour ministry in Qatar. 

"We shouldn't see 18 August as some sort of panacea, now we have the law, how will it be enforced?," the Yahoo News report quoted him as having said. 

"The government now has a benchmark it can apply to business. The government should effectively enforce this law," Qadri continued. 

"We shouldn't see August 18 as a deadline but a new beginning for Qatar."

Qadri called "kafala" the "elephant in the room", and said the changes being tomorrow should open the door to further reforms.

He referred specifically to the ending of the controversial kafala system, under which employers retain the passports of workers.

Qatar has pledged to abolish the kafala system by 2015. 

 

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