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Qatar delays worker e-salary payment deadline

The country's Wage Protection System, designed to ensure timely payments for employees in Qatar, has been delayed to 2 November, 2015, since some firms are yet to prepare for the programme

Qatar has delayed its e-payment system to November. [Representational Image]
Qatar has delayed its e-payment system to November. [Representational Image]

Qatar has delayed its Wage Protection System, which was designed to ensure timely payments to employees in the country, stating some firms are not ready with the required procedures to fulfill it yet. 

Implementation of Wage Protection System has been deferred until 2 November, 2015. 

Local daily Peninsula Qatar reported firms have thus been granted more time to ensure compliance with the mandatory system. 

Qatar's Emir signed a new law in February 2015, which required companies to pay their employees through direct bank transfers.

The law seeked to help Qatar's expats and government to monitor and report any late or non-existing payments.

Most companies were given six months to implement the system, the deadline for which expired on Tuesday, 18 August, 2015.

Companies could be fined between $549 (QAR2,000) and $1,647 (QAR6,000) if they are found not making electronic payments after the deadline.

Sources from the banking industry reportedly told local daily Al Sharq that Qatari banks have already completed the administrative and technical preparations required for the implementation of Wage Protection System. 

“We have all the necessary technical abilities as well the equipment and manpower in place to deal with the online workers’ salary payment system under the programme,” a banking industry source told the daily.

Banks must issue accounts for workers, regardless of the amount of their salaries: “No bank has the right to reject the request of a worker to open a bank account for salary transfer,” a source said, quoting regulator Qatar Central Bank's directive to the industry.

Global newswire Reuters said Amnesty International has warned the new system will not cover hundreds of thousands of casual workers or those employed by small firms.

"The protection system has the potential to be a positive because one of the common complaints among workers is not being paid adequately and/or on time," said Mustafa Qadri, Gulf Migrant Rights Researcher at the human rights group.

"An electronic record of how much and when employees are paid should make companies more accountable, but it's only a small step and there's no clarity on what action will be taken against companies that flout the new rules."

Construction firms complain the government and other clients can take so long to pay that it strains cashflows.

The kafala system also makes it easy for employers to delay wage payments, Amnesty said.

Qatar said in May 2014 it would introduce reforms including the abolition of kafala, but Amnesty says the proposed changes fall far short of ending the practice, and companies would still be able to stop employees joining another Qatari firm for five years.

"Overall, the proposed changes are welcome, but they are of limited scope, have yet to materialise and it's questionable whether they will come actually into force," added Qadri.

"There's a fear the introduction of the Wage Protection System is being used to deflect attention away from the fact that no other reforms have been implemented." 

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