Reem Saad / Doha News

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Employees in Qatar should soon have an easier and quicker way to pursue grievances against their bosses, after the Emir approved a new law this week.

The legislation, Labor Law No. 13 of 2017, establishes a Labor Dispute Resolution Committee that allows employees to circumvent the court system.

It also amends some provisions of previous iterations of the labor law from 2004 and 1990.

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Examples of complaints heard by the committee will include breach of contract or failure to provide a valid RP.

Notably however, the committee won’t be for everyone, since not all workers in Qatar are protected under the Labor Law.

Those who are exempt include employees at government ministries and other public bodies, and those working for Qatar Petroleum and its subsidiaries, according to Article 3 of the 2004 law, which was amended in 2009.

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Domestic staff such as household workers, drivers and gardeners are also not covered under this law.

But new legislation is in the works to “regulate” the relationship between these workers and their employers.

How to complain

The committee will operate under Qatar’s Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (MADLSA).

It aims to make decisions on grievances within three weeks of when they were filed.

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However, before a complaint reaches the new committee, workers should first try to address their issues with their employer directly.

If that doesn’t work, the employee can escalate the problem to the ministry’s Labor Department, according to Al Sharq which has published the full details of the new law in Arabic.

The Labor Dispute Resolution Committee will then step in if both previous steps fail to get a result.

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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That said, an employee can go directly to the committee if they have been terminated in what they feel is an arbitrary way.

If the panel finds a worker was dismissed illegally, the employee can be reinstated and awarded all payments owed to them. Compensation could also be ordered to be paid to the worker.

The committee’s decision would be immediately binding.

Committee structure

The committee will be chaired by a judge from the court of first instance who is chosen by the Supreme Judicial Council.

Two other members will be nominated by the Labor Ministry, one of which should have a background in accounting.

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The secretariat of the committee will comprise at least one employee from labor ministry, and the ministry is tasked with deciding the committee’s rules, procedures and mechanisms for awarding decisions and enforcing them.

The committee will be independent, and will have sole discretion over its decisions.

Appeals

Parties will have a right to appeal a decision made by the committee. They must lodge their dissent with the Court of Appeal within 15 days from the date of the decision.

The Court of Appeal then has 30 days to make a decision, from the date of the first hearing there, the new law states.

Chantelle D'mello / Doha News

Court of Appeals and Cassation

While new grievances will only be heard through the committee, complaints that have already been lodged by workers will continue to be processed through the courts.

The new committee was first publicly mooted last October, when the State Cabinet approved the planned changes to the Labor Law.

In March this year, it then approved further changes to the draft law, before it went to the Advisory (Shura) Council.

Speedier justice

The committee and changes to the law have been brought in to try to provide quicker justice to workers who have been wronged by their employers.

Under the previous system, workers with labor grievances usually approached their embassy.

Reem Saad / Doha News

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Officials there often mediated with the employer to try to reach a solution, but if that failed workers were advised to file a complaint with the labor ministry.

That lead to a meeting between the worker and their employer.

However, some workers who previously complained about their bosses reported retaliation.

This can come in the form of docked pay, employers failing to renew their Residency Permits (RP) or removing them from company accommodation, UN labor officials noted.

Qatar’s authorities have previously tried to make it easier for individuals to seek redress, and a 2014 report found that 90 percent of the cases lodged were resolved at this stage.

However, those that weren’t had to go through the court system.

This can be a long, expensive process for workers, particularly for those had been sacked or abandoned by their employers.

Thoughts?

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Solidarity with Barcelona

Officials in Qatar have strongly denounced a deadly attack in Spain yesterday that killed 13 people and injured more than 100 others.

The incident took place in Barcelona, when a van drove into a crowd full of pedestrians.

Barcelona is the latest city in Europe to experience a vehicle attack on pedestrians.

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According to CNN, more than 100 people have died in similar attacks in Berlin, London and Nice.

Spain’s Prime Minister called the attack an act of “jihadi terrorism” and police said five suspects have been killed in an ensuing raid.

Qatar condemnation

Responding to the crime, Qatar’s foreign ministry said the country rejects “violence and terrorism regardless of motives or reasons.”

In a statement, it added that it supports Spain in whatever actions it takes to maintain stability and security, and expressed sympathy to those affected by the tragedy.

The head of Qatar’s Government Communications Office also spoke out, saying the attack “goes against all human values.”

Qatari citizens were also instructed by their embassy in Spain to exercise caution and avoid crowded places.

Any nationals in need of help can call the following numbers:

Thoughts?

Ashghal

New Hamad Port Road

It should now be easier to drive between Doha, Hamad Port and Al Wakrah following the launch of two new main roads to the south of the capital.

This week, an 11km southern extension to the existing Doha Expressway was connected to the recently-opened G-Ring Road with Mesaieed Road.

The new route means traffic in the area no longer needs to travel through the main road in Al Wakrah.

This should improve congestion in the town and cut in half the journey time between the increasingly popular area and Doha, Ashghal said.

Ashghal

Benefits of Hamad Port Road and Doha Expressway southern extension

Commuters had previously complained about long traffic snarls in the area due to lack of capacity on the roads.

It’s also now easier to get to and from Hamad Port, after a new 14km road opened linking to G-Ring Road.

The route cuts travel times between the Industrial Area and the port. This means food and goods can be transported more efficiently from the docks to supermarket shelves and construction projects around the country.

Expressway extension

The new, southern extension of the Doha Expressway runs for 11km from the south of Al Wakrah to the junction with G-Ring Road, a QR4 billion project that was completed in April this year.

Ashghal

Doha Expressway southern extension

According to Ashghal, this road will eventually be linked with the existing sections of the Expressway. Currently, this ends at a junction with E-Ring Road.

So far, four of five lanes in each direction are open to traffic. Final works are still underway on the five interchanges on the route, which are expected to be finished in the coming months.

Once completed, these multi-level interchanges should improve connections between the increasingly popular southern residential districts of Al Wakrah and Al Wukair, and central Doha.

Ashghal said the project also includes:

  • 20 bridges,
  • One tunnel,
  • Eight underpasses, and
  • 42km of new pedestrian and cycle paths.

Hamad Port Road

A new 14km stretch of road has also opened to traffic to improve access between Hamad Port, the Orbital highway and the Industrial Area.

Ashghal

Hamad Port Road

The road is four lanes in each direction and runs from Um Al Houl interchange by the port, south of Al Wakrah, up to G-Ring Road.

With a capacity of 8,000 vehicles an hour, the new route should cut journey times by about 15 percent, according to the public works authority.

Will the new roads improve your commute? Thoughts?