By Courtney Trenwith
Real estate firm forced to retract a ban on domestic workers leaving their residential compound without written permission
A Qatari real estate company has apologised for its “shameful” policy that banned domestic workers from leaving residential compounds it manages without their employers’ written permission.
Disciplinary measures also would be taken against the general manager of Nasser Bin Khaled Real Estate (NBK), the firm said.
A letter informing tenants of the new policy was sent on Sunday, Doha News said.
“It is strictly prohibited for residents’ housemaids to leave the compound without a permission letter from the housemaid’s tenant, to avoid any conflicts and neighborhood problems,” the letter said.
“In addition, neither the management nor the security of the compound shall be responsible for any escape of any of your housemaids or the safety of children. Parents are advised to use appropriate means for the safety of their children.”
However, the letter was retracted within hours and the company, which has QR2bn ($500m) worth of property under its management, apologised for the illegal and “shameful” policy, Doha News reported.
The company’s director of legal affairs, Tammam Akkari, said NBK’s board of directors had not approved the letter before it was distributed.
“The Company has always been and will continue to be an unconditional supporter of the workers’ rights and a vehement defender of the human rights that are one of the top priorities of the State of Qatar and the Laws of the country, without any ounce of discrimination or prejudgments,” Akkari said in a statement reported by Doha News.
“The ‘prohibitions’ or ‘restrictions’ contained in the circular constitute illegal and inacceptable practices.”
Akkari said the company’s ethics committee would investigate how the policy was initiated.
“Appropriate disciplinary measures shall be taken against the General Manager of NBK Real Estate,” the statement said.
Tenants would receive a second letter, this time apologising.
Doha News reported the policy was implemented after a domestic worker quit her job and left the sponsor’s home without informing them, leaving a baby alone in the house.
A NBK staff member reportedly told Doha News, some tenants questioned why security guards had not stopped the woman from leaving the compound and called for the company to take action to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.