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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 August 2018

Qatar approves draft law for domestic workers

The law is expected to specify how many hours staff such as nannies, drivers and gardeners should work per week, how many days holiday they receive annually and how they are paid, according to state news agency.

Doha // Qatar has approved a draft law that would provide legal protection for tens of thousands of domestic workers for the first time.

The law is expected to specify how many hours staff such as nannies, drivers and gardeners should work per week, how many days holiday they receive annually and how they are paid, the state Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported.

The legislation was approved by the cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday.

“The law applies to sponsors and domestic helpers, specifies their rights and duties and regulates the relationship between them,” QNA said.

Initial response to the draft law was positive.

The campaign group Migrant Rights said on social media that the reform was “very promising news”.

It also called on Qatar to include domestic staff in the Wage Protection System, a measure introduced in 2015 to ensure the country’s vast migrant labour workforce receive their salaries on time.

Qatar has announced several key reforms governing the rights of labourers working on the construction of stadiums and infrastructure for the 2022 football World Cup, but domestic staff have not yet been protected by legislation.

The draft law would also protect an estimated 84,000 women domestic workers in Qatar, mostly from south and South-east Asia, many of whom “face severe exploitation, including forced labour and physical and sexual violence”, according to an Amnesty International report in 2014.

Amnesty’s deputy director of global issues, James Lynch, said it would be waiting to see the details of the proposed law.

“The Qatari government has been promising a law on domestic workers for years. Good that it’s back on the table – the content will be key,” he tweeted.

* Agence France-Presse

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