LTE to The Guardian by the Government Communications Office Deputy Director for Media Affairs

19 May 2020

Qatar is protecting migrant workers during the coronavirus epidemic

Your recent article (Qatar’s migrant workers beg for food as Covid-19 infections rise, 7 May) describes isolated incidents which, though important for our government to address, do not accurately represent the experience of the vast majority of workers in Qatar.

As with most of the world, Qatar has put in place temporary restrictions to combat the spread of coronavirus. These have had an impact on business operations and the movement of people.

During the ongoing pandemic response, employers are required to provide salaries, food and housing to all workers, including those unable to work because of coronavirus. Changes in salary or to unpaid leave require both worker and employer consent. If a worker’s contract ends, the employer must continue to provide food and housing, at no cost to the employee, until they can be repatriated at the employer’s expense.

The government strictly enforces these laws. We have conducted over 8,000 inspections of work and accommodation sites, and issued 309 citations since the start of the pandemic. Through the electronic wage protection system, we are working 24/7 to monitor compliance and ensure all workers are paid on time.

A complaints service was launched at the start of the pandemic for workers to lodge grievances against employers not observing their obligations. We strongly encourage your reporter to share the telephone number of the service with the people he interviewed. To date, 88% of complaints have been resolved, while the remaining 12% are under review.

Qatar’s actions against coronavirus have resulted in one of the lowest death rates in the world. We remain committed to protecting the rights of over 1.5 million expatriate workers in our country, including those interviewed by your reporter.

Thamer Hamad Al Thani

Government Communications Office

State of Qatar