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Qatar approves new law to protect domestic staff

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 23/08/2017
The new law limits domestic staff to a maximum of 10 hours' work a day [File: Rob Harris/AP] © Provided by Al Jazeera The new law limits domestic staff to a maximum of 10 hours' work a day [File: Rob Harris/AP]

Qatar has introduced a new law that will provide legal protection for domestic workers, giving them more rights and control over their contracts.

The "Domestic Employment Law" specifies that staff such as drivers, gardeners and nannies will now be able to limit their services to 10 hours a day, work six days a week and be entitled to annual holiday.

They will also be given paid sick leaves and guaranteed breaks for meals and worship.

Previously, domestic workers were not covered by Qatar's labour laws, meaning they had limited protection in legal disputes with their employers.

Once the new law takes effect, domestic staff will be able to sign a legal employment contract with their employers.

They will also get end-of-service benefits equating to a minimum of three weeks wages for each year of service when their contract ends.

Recent estimates put the number of domestic workers affected by the new legislation between 200,000-300,000 workers.

The law was signed on Tuesday by Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

It follows last year's changes in the law that regulated and streamlined the residencies of all categories of workers in Qatar in terms of their entry and exit of the country.

Saad Sultan al-Abdulla, director of international cooperation at Qatar's National Human Rights Committee, welcomed the law, saying it was in line with international labour agreements and human rights conventions.

"For sure, this law is progressive and goes along the way toward more reform that will protect the rights and interests of people working in Qatar," he added.

Out of a total population of 2.7 million, an estimated 1.9 million people in Qatar are low-skilled workers who work in construction and other jobs.

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