85% of Qatar workers covered by wage protection scheme

Qatar government targets 100 percent compliance by end of the year
(Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
By Sarah Townsend
Wed 02 Nov 2016 11:17 AM

Some 85 percent of Qatar’s workforce have been brought under the country’s new Wage Protection System (WPS), which requires staff to be paid on time by direct bank transfer, the government announced on Wednesday.

Since November 2015, all private sector employers in Qatar have been compelled to open bank accounts for their workforce and pay them at least monthly by direct bank transfer. There has been a one-year grace period for companies to comply with the new rules.

In a statement, the government said it was aiming for 100 percent compliance by the end of this year.

More than 37,916 companies are now compliant with the WPS, according to October figures from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs, quoted on Wednesday by Qatar’s government communications office.

The remaining companies, which employ approximately 15 percent of Qatar’s workforce, are in the process of meeting the requirements.

As it stands, 1.8 million of Qatar’s 2.1 million salaried workforce now receive their payment via bank transfer, the statement said.

The WPS is designed to end the ‘cash-in-hand’ payment culture that puts workers at risk around the world. It also grants new powers to Qatari authorities to monitor wage payment, and ensure migrant workers are being paid in full and on time, according to their contracts.

Government labour inspectors are to identify and monitor non-compliant companies over the coming months.

Since the system was introduced, 385 violations were reported by staff against companies enrolled on the WPS but still failing to pay salaries on time. However, the total number of complaints made by workers against employers in Qatar has dropped by 30.4 percent.

Companies that fail to comply face fines of between QR2000 and QR6000, and/or a one-month prison sentence.

Dr Issa bin Saad Al Jafali Al Nuaimi, Qatar’s minister of administrative development, labour and social affairs, said: “Throughout the world, some employers use cash-in-hand payment to exploit low-income workers.

“Through the implementation of the Wage Protection System, Qatar has introduced a paper-trail that ensures greater transparency and greater protections for workers at risk of being cheated out of full financial compensation for their efforts.”

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