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SBD Global/July 21, 2014/International Football

Qatar Adopts Foreign Worker Reforms Including Ban On Midday Work Outdoors During Summer

Qatar's government has approved "some measures to improve the treatment of foreign workers" following int'l criticism over the past year, as the Gulf state "gears up to host the 2022 World Cup," according to Amena Bakr of REUTERS. Qatar Minister of Labor & Social Affairs Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi announced the steps on Sunday. They include a "requirement that companies set up bank accounts for workers and pay wages electronically and a ban on mid-day outdoor work in the summer heat." The government, however, is "still working on plans to replace a contentious sponsorship law in the Arab country of 2.2 million people." Al-Khulaifi said, "We know there is much more to do, but we are making definite progress." Qatar has the "highest proportion of migrant workers per population in the world." The OPEC member's population jumped 9% in the first quarter as companies "hired thousands of laborers to work on World Cup-related infrastructure projects." The government has also agreed to launch an "electronic complaint system and is building accommodation to accommodate up to 150,000 workers" (REUTERS, 7/20). RUSSIA TODAY reported the Qatar government plans to replace the sponsorship law "known as Kafala system." The current law "chains" foreign workers to a single employer, who "therefore can treat its staff any way they want, without facing any consequences or punishment." Thus, for example, foreign workers "need their employer's permission to change jobs." It is "not clear" from the announcement "when Qatar adopted the labor reforms and when they will be implemented" (RT, 7/20).
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