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Workers in Qatar to be reimbursed more than QAR 52.5 million in recruitment fees

Contractors engaged on 2022 FIFA World Cup™ projects have agreed to reimburse more than QAR 52.5 million ($14.4m) to thousands of workers who paid recruitment fees prior to moving to Qatar.

Mahmoud Qutub, Workers' Welfare Executive Director at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC), announced the figure during the 'Labour Law Reforms in Qatar: Challenges and Opportunities for Business' conference, which was organised by the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs.

Joining Qutub on the panel were Abdulla Y Al Mulla, from Qatar Insurance Company, Fahad Zainal, from Qatar Financial Centre, and Shaikha Amal Al Thani, from Qatar Foundation. The panel was moderated by Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, Director of Legal, Qatar Chamber.

Qutub said Qatar's hosting of the World Cup is helping to tackle the global issue of unethical recruitment. Numerous workers were forced to pay recruitment fees in their home countries before moving to Qatar, despite the practice being illegal under Qatari law.

"No worker should bear the cost of recruitment fees; that cost should be borne by the contractor," said Qutub, while taking part in a panel session entitled 'Promising Initiatives and Practices in Qatar'.

"We engage with contractors to help them understand the benefit of reimbursing workers and to reiterate it is simply the right thing to do."

Qutub continued: "We collaborate with contractors who share our vision and who want to be part of the journey towards 2022. We need them to understand how much workers may have to pay out of their own pocket and why this process is so important."

The SC has collaborated with local contractors to put money back in the pockets of workers. The project began in late 2017 and will lead to workers directly involved in Qatar 2022 infrastructure projects receiving QAR 39.4 million ($10.8m) over the next three years. In addition, five SC contractors have agreed to reimburse more than 8,000 workers not engaged on Qatar 2022 projects, which will lead to a further QAR 13 million ($3.6m) of payments. In total, QAR 52.5M ($14.4m) will be reimbursed to workers.

Qutub said this project showed the SC's commitment to legacy was already making an impact – four years before the tournament kicks off.

"The impact in a very short space of time has been dramatic," said Qutub. "We have gone from the uncertainty of trying to tackle a complex global issue, to engaging in open dialogue with contractors that has benefitted more than a third of our workforce. This is the legacy of a World Cup in action."

In addition to recruitment fees, Qutub also highlighted a range of other initiatives delivered by the SC's Workers' Welfare Department, notably the grievance mechanisms available to workers and the nutrition programme implemented alongside Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar. Qutub also discussed a collaboration with UK-based TechNiche and Hamad Bin Khalifa University to develop the 'AirCool' suit – a revolutionary garment designed to minimise heat stress on construction sites.

Held at the Sheraton Doha, the conference outlined the opportunities and challenges facing Qatar's business community in relation to recent law reforms. The two-day event, which was supported by the International Labour Organisation's Project Office in Qatar and the Institute for Human Rights and Business, gave a platform to some of Qatar's most influential government officials, private sector entities and human rights experts.