According a media release, legislation adopted last year provided a six-month transition period for employers to prepare for the new minimum thresholds.
Qatar is the first country in the region to introduce a non-discriminatory minimum wage, which is part of a series of historical reforms of the country’s labour laws.
In addition to the minimum monthly basic wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals QAR (275 USD), the legislation stipulates that employers must pay allowances of at least QAR 300 and QAR 500 for food and housing respectively, if they do not provide workers with these directly.
More than 400,000 workers or 20 percent of the private sector will benefit directly from the new law.
“This wage increase will also improve the lives of a large number of family members in the workers’ countries of origin who rely on the remittances sent every month,” said Max Tuñón from the ILO Project Office in Qatar.
To ensure compliance with the minimum wage, the Government is enhancing the detection of violations, enacting swifter penalties and further strengthening the capacity of labour inspectors.
The minimum wage legislation was adopted following a comprehensive analysis carried out by the Government of Qatar and the ILO, in consultation with national and international experts and workers and employers from different sectors of the economy.
The legislation also established a Minimum Wage Commission that will review the impact and application of the minimum wage, and propose adjustments, in consultation with different government bodies, experts, workers and employers.
This law follows other major reforms, including the dismantling of the kafala or sponsorship system. In particular, workers are no longer required to obtain an exit permit to leave the country, or a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to change jobs. These measures will likely make Qatar a more attractive destination for global talent and investment.
“Some obstacles still must be addressed for more effective labour mobility, but we’ve observed a large number of workers moving to new jobs. While 75 per cent of the workers who have applied to change jobs have already completed the process, the remainder are currently being processed”, said Max Tuñón.
“Companies across all industries have also benefited from being able to recruit workers locally, reducing the costs and risks related with cross-border recruitment.”