There is no minimum wage. The labor law provides for a 48-hour workweek with a 24-hour rest period and paid annual leave days. The law requires premium pay for overtime and prohibits excessive compulsory overtime. Employees who work more than 48 hours per week or 36 hours per week during the month of Ramadan are entitled to an overtime pay supplement of at least 25 percent. The government sets occupational health and safety standards including restrictions on working during the hottest hours of the day during the summer and general restrictions related to temperature during the rest of the day as well. The labor law and provisions for acceptable conditions of work do not apply to workers in the public sector or agriculture, or to domestic workers. In August the emir ratified a new law regulating service workers in the home. The law provides for a maximum 10-hour workday, one day a week off, and allows for overtime. Poverty among citizens was very low, and the government did not track poverty statistics among migrant workers.
Responsibility for laws related to acceptable conditions of work fell primarily to the MADLSA as well as the Ministry of Energy and Industry and the Ministry of Public Health. The government did not effectively enforce standards in all sectors; working conditions for citizens were generally adequate, because government agencies and the major private sector companies employing them generally followed the relevant laws. Enforcement problems were in part due to insufficient training and lack of personnel. As of October there were 397 inspectors in the MADLSA.
The government took limited action to prevent violations and improve working conditions. In the first half of the year, labor courts handed down judgements in 2,575 out of 21,343 total cases presented. In August the emir signed an amendment to the Labor Law to establish new labor dispute resolution committees (LRDCs), replacing existing labor courts. The LDRCs will operate under the MADLSA. The committees are chaired by judges and designed to process new worker complaints within three weeks.
The Labor Inspection Department conducted monthly and random inspections of foreign worker camps. When inspectors found the camps to be below minimum standards, the operators received a warning, and authorities ordered them to remedy the violations within one month. For example, inspectors reportedly checked companies’ payrolls and health and safety practices, returning after one month to ensure any recommended changes were made. If a company did not remedy the violations, the MADLSA imposed fines, blacklisted the company, and on occasion referred the matter to the public prosecutor for action.
Fear of penalties such as blacklisting appeared to have had some effect as a deterrent to some labor law violations. Blacklisting is an administrative hold on a company or individual that freezes government services such as processing new visa applications from the firms. Firms must pay a 3,000 QAR ($825) fine to be removed from the list--even if the dispute is resolved--and the ministry reserves the right to keep companies on the list after the fine is paid as a punitive measure. The ministry reported that there are 338 registered recruitment agencies in the country. The ministry inspectors paid 170 inspection visits to the agencies in the first semester of the year resulted in filing infringement reports and sending warning letters to 27 companies.
MADLSA inspectors conducted 19,463 inspection visits to work and labor housing sites in the first semester of the year. Inspectors found that 68.7 percent of companies received no violations, 18.5 percent received warnings, 3.5 percent received infringement reports, 2.6 percent were discontinued, and 6.4 percent received safety guidance and advice. Violators faced penalties of up to 6,000 QAR ($1,650) and 30 days’ imprisonment in the most serious cases, but labor observers reported that most safety and health violations were handled through administrative fines or blacklisting. The ministry maintained an office in Doha’s industrial area, where most unskilled foreign workers resided, to receive complaints about worker safety or nonpayment of wages.
Violations of wage, overtime, and safety and health standards were relatively common, especially in sectors employing foreign workers, in which working conditions were often poor. Employers must pay their employees electronically to provide a digital audit trail for the MADLSA. Employers who failed to pay their workers faced penalties of 2,000-6,000 QAR ($550-$1,650) per employee and possible prison sentences. By law employees have a right to remove themselves from situations that endangered their health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, but authorities did not effectively provide protection to employees exercising this right. Employers often ignored working-hour restrictions and other laws with respect to domestic workers and unskilled laborers, the majority of whom were foreigners.
Some employers did not pay workers for their overtime or annual leave. According to MADLSA statistics, among the 4,230 complaints received by workers in the first half of the year, 86.6 percent involved failure of the employer to pay for a return ticket home, 80.9 percent involved wages in arrears, 77.1 percent involved failure to pay end-of-service bonus, and 77 percent involved a failure to pay for holiday allowance. While the practice continued, the frequency of these abuses was reportedly declining. Employers housed many unskilled foreign laborers in cramped, dirty, and hazardous conditions, often without running water, electricity, or adequate food. In 2016 the government began serving eviction notices to landlords whose buildings were not up to code. The government also began signing contracts for higher-standard worker accommodations, which have begun accepting workers from the inadequate housing options. Throughout the year international media alleged some abusive working conditions existed, including work-related deaths of young foreign workers, especially in the construction sector. Government statistics show that during the first half of the year, 245 workers were injured while on the job and 64 workers were killed while working.
Domestic workers often faced unacceptable working conditions. Many such workers frequently worked seven days a week and more than 12 hours a day with few or no holidays, no overtime pay, and limited means to redress grievances. Some employers denied domestic workers food or access to a telephone, according to news reports and foreign embassy officials.
International NGOs found that foreign workers faced legal obstacles and lengthy legal processes that prevented them from seeking redress for violations and exploitative conditions. Noncitizen community leaders also highlighted migrant workers’ continued hesitation to report their plight due to fear of reprisals.