Qatar replaced controversial Kafala Rules with Contract-based labour system
India is the major beneficiary of the reformed labour system as over 30 percent of the expatriate workers in Qatar are from India.
Qatar on 13 December 2016 abolished the controversial Kafala labour system. The system has been replaced with a new contract-based labour system to ensure enhanced rights to the migrant labourers.
Why Kafala System became controversial?
• Kafala is based on sponsorship model. Under this, every immigrant worker to Qatar required a local sponsor. The sponsor may be in the form a company or an individual.
• An immigrant worker needed the permission of the sponsor to switch jobs or leave the company.
• The discretionary power on the part of the sponsor was misused a lot of times. The sponsors used to exploit the expatriates physically, financially and emotionally.
• Hence, the kafala system was identified as modern-day slavery.
What are the features of the Contract-based system?
• Under this system, an immigrant worker needs to enter into a contract with a company or an individual to obtain work visa.
• Under this system, a worker can change job easily by fulfilling obligations under the contract.
• Exit from the country is guaranteed as the worker is no longer required the prior approval of the company or individual employer.
How will the new system benefit Qatar?
• The adoption of the contract based labour system will enable smooth flow of immigrant workers across the borders.
• It improves the investor confidence in the country’s labour practices and will eventually lead to more foreign direct investment (FDI) as well as foreign portfolio investment (FII).
• It will facilitate the timely completion of stadiums, roads and other infrastructure projects related to the upcoming FIFA World Cup. The mega event will be held across 7 cities of Qatar in 2022.
How will it benefit India?
• India is the major beneficiary of the new system as 7 lakh out of the total 2.1 million foreign workers belong to India.
• Most of the migrants from India are prone to exploitation because of low literacy levels and poverty. Hence, legal safeguards under the new system will improve their working conditions.