Like millions of migrant workers across the world, the workers employed on Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) projects sometimes find themselves caught up in a complex global supply chain, which leaves them vulnerable to unethical practices – such as being charged recruitment fees.
Charging these fees is illegal under Qatar's Labour Law, yet thousands of workers are made to pay recruitment fees in their home countries before coming to Qatar. These fees push workers into debt before they have even migrated overseas.
We believe that the financial burden should be on the contractor – not on the worker. Since late 2017, the SC has worked with our contractors to reimburse recruitment fees to workers, even if they don't have proof of payment.
Find out more about how we're tackling unethical recruitment fees and building a brighter future post-2022 in this video:
What is the SC responsible for?
Our Workers' Welfare Standards forbid the practice of charging recruitment fees. We strive to work only with contractors who do not engage in such unethical behaviour, and with recruiters approved by Qatar's Ministry of Administrative Development Labour & Social Affairs (MoADLSA).
Ethical recruitment is a complex, global issue. We have focused on working with contractors to reimburse workers where possible, while driving the conversation around eradicating these practices altogether.
What are we doing and what have we achieved?
The SC conducts regular ethical audits to find out if any of our workers have been targeted by these practices. Since 2016, we have spent almost 30,000 hours carrying out more than 2,384 ethical recruitment audits.
Every week, we interview 5% of each contractor's workforce for a specific SC project, in accordance with a defined sampling methodology. We are interested in discovering how the workers came to Qatar, who brought them here and what their experiences have been since arriving, finding answers to the questions below.
• Has the interviewee paid recruitment fees, or has anybody they know?
• Were offer letters provided in their home countries and explained in their native language?
• Is the employment contract consistent with the offer letter and the signed, attested copy of the employment contract provided?
• Are workers performing any tasks not in line with the nature of their work?
• Are workers treated equally and given enough rest?
• Do they have valid work visas, ID cards and health coverage?
• Are they receiving salaries on time?
• Have they received the necessary inductions?
After reviewing the relevant documents for each element of the ethical recruitment audit, the auditor marks the checklist item as either compliant, non-compliant or not applicable.
Key issues are highlighted separately, and are collated and raised on a weekly basis. These issues may include: annual leave or rest days not granted to workers; passports, bank cards or health cards not retained by workers; medical insurance not provided free of charge; or contractors not paying for medical procedures or consultations.
Once we have begun interviewing workers, we visit the contractors in question and confirm the findings, by comparing their testimonies with the evidence gathered and further testimonies from their company.
We audit agency fees, verify signed contracts and compare payslips to make sure workers are being paid their wages on time. We capture our findings in a report, storing the data via our Intelex system. Any companies found violating these rules are reported to the MoADLSA.
When we find that repayment of recruitment fees is required, it is for one of the following reasons:
• Contractors acknowledge that they did not incur the full cost of recruitment and mobilisation of their workers
• Workers have provided proof of payment for fees paid during the mobilisation process
Compensation covers costs incurred by workers for recruitment and medical fees, as well as any general expenses during their mobilisation. It is delivered to workers as a one-off payment or in monthly allowances.
By December 2020, it is estimated that almost QAR 94.57 million (USD 25.97 million) will be repaid to almost 39,000 workers on SC and non-SC projects. This commitment demonstrates the human and social legacy of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
• In 2016, we carried out 114 ethical recruitment initial audits and 53 follow-up ethical audits
• In total, 875 workers at 199 contractors and other contracting parties were interviewed, which is 9% of the SC's total workforce at the time
• In 2017, we conducted 539 ethical recruitment audits over the course of 7,007 hours
• In total, 1,568 workers at 170 contractors and other contracting parties were interviewed, which is 10% of the SC's total workforce at the time
• In 2018, we conducted 970 ethical recruitment audits over the course of 11,640 hours
• In 2019, we conducted 1,000+ ethical recruitment audits over the course of 13,116 hours
Through our audits, the Workers' Welfare team discovered 30 Ghanaian workers who claimed they had paid recruitment fees to come to Qatar. Following the implementation of the procedures outlined above, we determined that their claims were true.
When word spread that we were taking action on unethical recruitment fees, many workers suddenly came forward with receipts. They had all paid recruitment fees. The SC and the main contractor brought the recruiting agents to Qatar. We watched them pay cash to the workers. Every last worker got their money back.
For more information on ethical recruitment, please refer to section 6.1 of the SC's Workers' Welfare Standards.