|Ahmed Jaafir||Frank Lucente|
Prior to the issuance of Law 1 of 2015, Article 66 of the Labour Law provided that employees' wages be paid to the employees themselves within the working day and during working hours in the usual place of work or any other place to be approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Further, the wages could also be transferred to the account of the employees with the bank to be agreed upon by the employer and the employee or be paid to the attorney appointed by the employee in writing. Under the law, the employer should not be considered released from his obligation to pay the wage due to the employee, unless the employer has actually transferred it to the bank account of the employee or has actually paid it directly to the employee or the employee's attorney.
However, under Law 1 of 2015, handing the wages to the employees or their attorneys is no longer an acceptable option; it is now a compulsory requirement to transfer the employees' wages to the employees' bank accounts as per the amended article (66) of the Labour Law which provides that wages and other benefits payable to employees be paid in Qatari currency and must be transferred to the employees' bank account at one of the financial institutions operating in the State of Qatar, permitting the employees to have access to their wages on the due date. Employees recruited on annual or monthly wages should be paid at least once a month and wages of all other employees should be paid at least once every two weeks.
As per article 1 of the Qatar Central Bank Law 13 of 2012, financial institutions are defined as 'any bank, insurance company, reinsurance company, investment company, finance company, exchange house, representation office, external unit and other financial institutions' regulated and licensed by the Qatar Central Bank to conduct such banking and similar activities.
As a proactive step, on December 29 2014 the Qatar Central Bank issued a circular to all banks operating in Qatar instructing them to be ready to receive the wage files of their customers' workers and process them through the Workers' Wages Protection System no later than January 15 2015. The Bank has also made some enhancing technical changes on the Direct Credit and Debit System (QATCH) to facilitate the implementation of the Workers' Wages Protection System.
Law 1 of 2015 has instructed all employers to adjust their situation in accordance with its provisions within six months of May 2 2015 (the date the law came into force). The decision of the Minister may extend this deadline for a period or other similar periods.
Every person who violates any of the provisions of the amended article 66 of the Labour Law will be punished by imprisonment for a period not exceeding one month, or a fine of no less than QR2,000 ($549) and no more than QR6,000 or both.
The amendments to the Labour Law create a challenge in terms of training labourers on how to use and access their bank accounts. Nevertheless, the amendements will protect the payment of wages to employees, as the Qatar government can easily document, track and monitor any late or non-payment of wages through requesting employees to provide bank account statements.
Ahmed Jaafir and Frank Lucente