International best practices on domestic workers discussed in Qatar

Partners share ideas on how the rights of both domestic workers and their employers can be ensured.

News | 18 September 2018
Foreign domestic workers supervise children in the green space of a residential complex ILO/Apex Image 2011
Qatar (ILO News) The benefits of standard contracts and transparent recruitment processes for domestic workers were among the topics discussed at a workshop held in Doha recently on international good practices relating to domestic work and their application in Qatar.

Taking place in Doha on 3-4 September 2018, the event brought together staff of the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA), Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice as well as the National Human Rights Committee and Qatar University with members of the ILO’s Project Office for the State of Qatar and experts based at ILO HQ in Geneva.

Qatar is home to approximately 175,000 domestic workers, of whom some 60 per cent are women. Most are from Asia and Africa. The workshop provided the opportunity to share ideas on good practices and how the rights of both domestic workers and their employers can be ensured.

Speaking at the opening of the workshop, Mohammed Al Obaidly, Assistant Undersecretary of Labour from ADLSA said, “The ministry and partners from different organizations present here today are ready to discuss and learn from international best practices in order to enhance mechanisms relating to domestic workers in Qatar. We wish to become a model for the application of standards in this regard.”

Qatar adopted a new law on domestic workers in August 2017 clearly setting out their rights and obligations.

“This workshop was very much welcomed. We recently provided the government with comments on the domestic workers law and congratulated them on this significant step forward. This event gave us the opportunity to understand better the concrete challenges of employers and workers in the sector and contextualize our recommendations.” explained ILO’s Technical Specialist Alix Nasri.

Areas discussed included the benefits of standard contracts, which clearly set out wage levels, working hours etc., and the need for transparent recruitment processes from countries of origin to Qatar. These would ensure decent working conditions for domestic workers, and reduce the potential for misunderstanding and deception. Also covered were the lack of transparency around the high recruitment fees borne by employers as well as the benefits of giving employers the chance to meet domestic workers before hiring them.

ILO and ADLSA are committed to collaborate on creating implementation mechanisms and awareness of the domestic workers law as well as innovative strategies to reach households to help ensure decent working and living conditions for domestic workers.

“This is a great opportunity to introduce good practices and show that it is possible to ensure protection for domestic workers while at the same time benefitting employers too,” said Mr. Al Obaidly.

In April 2018, the ILO opened a Project Office in Qatar to support the implementation of a comprehensive programme on working conditions and labour rights in the country. The initiative reflects the common commitment of both the Government of Qatar and the ILO to cooperate on ensuring compliance with ratified international labour Conventions, as well as achieving fundamental principles and rights at work in the State of Qatar in a gradual manner during the period 2018 to 2020.

For more information on ILO Project Office activities on domestic work, contact Alix Nasri at nasri@ilo.org