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Qatar approves draft law on domestic workers

Qatar's cabinet has approved a draft law on the rights and duties of domestic workers, state news agency QNA has reported. 13 Feb 2017

The law defines household work, specifying that it is made up of services that a domestic helper does for their sponsor or for those living with the sponsor in a family house. The work must be in line with the contract, and with "established norms", QNA said.

The draft law defines the sponsor as "a natural person for whom a domestic helper works" and defines the domestic helper as "a natural person who carries out household works under the management and supervision of the sponsor in return for a wage in line with the contract and established norm", QNA said. Domestic helpers include drivers, nannies, cooks, gardeners and their equivalents, it said.

Once ratified, the law will apply to both sponsors and domestic helpers and lay out the terms of the relationship between them.

Employment law expert Luke Tapp of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "The law is expected to regulate the relationship between domestic workers and their employers. Particular provisions which we anticipate may be included within the legislation will relate to maximum working hours, how many days annual leave the workers should receive per year and how the employee should be paid."

"The changes in Qatar echo similar developments which are likely to take place within the UAE, which are also aimed at improving working conditions for low paid workers in general and further protect rights of domestic workers," Tapp said. 

"In December 2016, it was announced that domestic workers would have greater protection as their employment will be regulated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation. These changes are expected to come into effect during 2017," he said.  

The developments can only be a positive step towards providing a more regulated environment and better employment protection for domestic workers based in Qatar and the UAE.

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