Qatar raises minimum wage, lifts restriction on changing jobs

The new minimum wage is non-discriminatory and applies to all workers, the labour ministry said in a statement.

This file photo taken in May 2015 shows foreign labourers working on the construction site of the al-Wakrah football stadium, one of Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadiums. Picture: AFP.

DUBAI - Qatar announced on Sunday changes to its labour laws, raising its minimum wage on Sunday by 25% to 1,000 riyals ($274.6) a month and scrapping a requirement for employees to get the permission of their employers to change jobs.

It is the latest in a series of labour reforms by the 2022 Fifa World Cup host which in the lead up to the tournament has faced accusations that migrant workers are exploited.

The new minimum wage is non-discriminatory and applies to all workers, the labour ministry said in a statement.

Companies must also provide workers with accommodation and food or an additional combined monthly stipend of 800 riyals, it said.

The United Nations’ labour agency welcomed the changes.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) said Qatar was to become the first country in the region to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage.

It also said, in addition to other reforms, removing the need for employees to obtain a No Objection Certificate from their employers to change jobs “effectively dismantles” the “kafala” system.

The “kafala” sponsorship system is common in Gulf states, where visas for foreign workers are tied to their employer.

Qatar last December scrapped restrictions on leaving the country for hundreds of thousands of domestic workers left out of earlier reforms.

The changes announced on Sunday will come into effect in six months, the labour ministry said.

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