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Friday, December 13, 2013

Legal Corner: Change of sponsorship: Take the morning off to go look for apartments

Legal Corner: Change of sponsorship September 04, 2013 - 3:28:28 am By Abdelaal A Khalil, Legal Consultant, Please send your queries to: plus@pen.com.qa I am an Arab expatriate working for a real estate firm in Qatar. My wife, also an expatriate, works for an education centre. According to her work contract, she gets a 30 percent share for teaching students at the centre, and a 50 percent share if she conducts tutorials elsewhere. She later got a job in an Independent school and her sponsor agreed to let her work there. However, he then demanded that she pay him half her salary according to the above contract. When she tried to explain to him that she had been hired temporarily by the school with his permission, and that this did not involve any contractual obligation, he threatened to cancel her residence permit. This made her pay him 50 percent of her salary every month. When the school year ended, she asked him to transfer her sponsorship to her husband, at which he told her to resign from her job and prepare for deportation. Is there any law that forces a worker to pay half his salary to his sponsor? How can my wife get back what she has paid to her sponsor? And how can she transfer her sponsorship to her husband? Name withheld on request To stop such illegal practices you need to inform the authorities with the required evidence, otherwise any claim will not be considered. The education centre or your wife’s sponsor has no right to half of her salary, and the employer must return what she has paid. To get back what she has paid him, she may need to file a complaint. Being under his sponsorship does not prevent her from filing a suit against him. Otherwise she can file a case in court for transferring her sponsorship, as the labour law stipulates that a dispute under the law can be taken to court within a year of the end of the work contract. She can quit her job and get her residence permit cancelled and return to Qatar on her husband’s sponsorship, as in this case she does not need to stay outside Qatar for two years before returning on a fresh sponsorship. If you are not eligible for a family visa, you can sue the education centre for the amount paid to your wife’s sponsor and request the transfer of her sponsorship to any company she is willing to work with. In case of a dispute between a sponsor and a worker, the Ministry of Interior has authority to get a worker’s sponsorship transferred without the consent of the sponsor, according to Law No. 4/2009. I have filed a case in court against my employer for non-payment of salary and other dues. Initially, I was told that my case, being a labour case, would be decided in six to eight months. It is almost 18 months since the case was filed. Despite having all documents that prove my claim, for the past one and a half years I have only got information about the next date of hearing, which is usually every two months. I approached the human rights department at the Ministry of Interior with all relevant documents and requested them to allow me to change my sponsors in order for me to work and support my family. They said they would consider my request for change of sponsorship after the court gives its verdict. Please advise me as to what are my options. Who should I approach to allow me to work, as I have been staying in Qatar with my wife and children without any source of income for more than one and a half years? Name withheld on request Article 10 of Labour Law No. 14/2004 says all suits filed by workers or their heirs to claim rights arising from the provisions of this act or the employment contract will be considered by the court promptly, and they are exempted from judicial fees. Regarding wages, Article 66 of the Labour Law says wages and other dues owed to the worker should be paid in Qatari Riyals monthly or once every two weeks. Article 51 indicates that the worker may terminate the employment contract before its expiry if there is a fixed term, and without notifying the employer if there is no fixed term, while getting all dues, including end of service benefits, if the employer has breached his obligations under the employment contract or the law. The failure of the employer to pay a worker’s salary is against the terms of the employment contract and the labour law Suits filed by workers are considered promptly, however, the verdict is based on the facts and circumstances of each case, which may need further research and investigation. The court may refer a case to experts to examine documents related to it, and such procedures may take time and cause some delay. Regarding transfer of sponsorship, Law No. 4/2009 states that the Minister of Interior or his deputy may transfer the sponsorship of an expatriate worker temporarily in case of a legal dispute between the sponsor and the worker, or if there is proven abuse by the sponsor, or if public interest requires it. In case of lengthy legal processes, the law says that the Ministry of Interior can use its discretion to transfer a worker’s sponsorship without the consent of the sponsor, regardless of whether the relationship between the parties is subject to Labour Law No. 14/2004 or not. The ministry can transfer the sponsorship of an expatriate temporarily until a verdict is issued by the court. If the court holds that the sponsor has treated the worker arbitrarily, the transfer of sponsorship becomes final and the relationship between the parties ends, but if the allegations against the sponsor are not proved, the worker’s sponsorship can be cancelled and he can be deported. The questioner is advised to approach the competent authority at the Ministry of Interior to transfer his sponsorship temporarily until the lawsuit is decided. Worker wages Regarding wages, Labour Law No. 14/2004 says the worker deserves wages as specified in the contract of employment. If the wages are not specified, the worker deserves payment according to the work regulations. If not specified, the worker shall be entitled to wages equivalent to the amount paid for work of the same kind in the company, or estimated in accordance with the custom of the profession, or according to the requirements of justice. Wages or any dues payable to the worker may not be suspended or stopped, except in pursuance of a court decision, or to repay debt. However, the total of the amount reserved may not be more than 35 percent of the worker’s wage. The employer should not receive any interest on what he lends to the worker. Labour Law No. 4/2004 says the employer must pay the worker before his annual leave, due until the date of leave. The worker’s wage during annual leave or sick leave and the compensation at the end of service are calculated on the basis of his last basic wage. If the worker is a freelancer, it should be calculated on the basis of the average wages of the last three months. If the worker causes any loss, damage or destruction of equipment or facilities, he is obliged to compensate the employer. However, this should be preceded by investigation. The employer may deduct compensation from the worker’s wages amounting to no more than seven days’ wages per month. The worker may appeal to the administration against the employer’s estimation of compensation within seven days of notification regarding the compensation. If the administration cancels the decision of the employer or reduces the compensation amount, any amount wrongly deducted should be returned to the worker within seven days. If the employment contract is terminated for any reason, the employer should pay the worker wages and all other dues before the end of the working day following the day the contract ends, or within seven days of the worker’s last working day. This is in case the worker leaves without giving due notice, as mentioned in Article 49 of this Law. Take the morning off to go look for apartments Hundreds of low-income expats in Qatar left homeless after eviction By: Chantelle D'mello | 24 hours agoView as "Clean Read" | 84 Comments All photos by Chantelle D’mello Hundreds of residents in Qatar’s downtown area of Musheireb were forcibly removed from their apartments by police officials yesterday, effectively leaving the men homeless for the night and scrambling for new accommodation today. According to witnesses, Internal Security Forces (ISF) showed up at around 9:30pm on Tuesday night, supervising an exodus that lasted around two hours. Speaking to Doha News, MD Faiyaz, a 32-year-old resident who was at work when the mass evictions began, said: “I was at Al Sadd and got a phone call saying that the police were at our apartment. They were breaking down doors, hitting people and throwing them out of the houses.” Faiyaz said he lived with seven others in a studio apartment with five beds. The Nepali expat, who works as a tailor at the Al Wadi Group, said that no prior notice had been given to the residents of his building, but added that other nearby complexes had been served eviction notices by the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP) a month prior to yesterday. Other residents were given a warning two months ago, when in April, the electricity was shut off at several residential buildings in the Musheireb area, prompting a chorus of complaints from some of the thousands affected. “They could have said it nicely, but they didn’t. There was no humanity. Just force.” Abdullah Sayed, who was evicted yesterday, said that the power in his home had been cut off two months ago. But the developer of his building restored the electricity when complaints were made. However, Sayed said no other information was communicated to the residents following the incident. “No one has come by to collect rent for the past two months,” he added. “We have an agreement with (our landlord) to stay here, but no one has come by yet.” Msheireb Nada Badawi Several of the buildings in the Musheireb area have been marked for demolition to make way for newer, more upscale developments. But the majority of the thousands of people residing in the Musheireb area are low-income Asian expats from Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan, who said at the time that if they lose their homes, they’ll have nowhere else to go. Searching for solutions Another expat who lost his housing yesterday is Badruddin, a 31-year-old Nepali salesman who works for Amir Perfumes. He said: “Friends of mine who were in the area and who live with me called me up and told me that red police cars (ISF) were in the area. They rounded people up and gave them five minutes to get all their things out of the apartments.” Both Faiyaz and Badruddin – who resided in the same building – spoke to Doha News this afternoon while sitting on the pavement under the shade of a building in Musheireb, next to their belongings. They said they spent this morning searching the city for affordable apartments, to no avail. Currently, the two said they make about QR1,000 each a month, and are given QR200 as a housing allowance. When asked about how their employers have responded to their housing crisis, Faiyaz said: “They told us to take the morning off to go look for apartments, but apart from that, we received no other information.” Ramadan woes Several of the people who lost their homes told Doha News that they spent half of last night on the street, and the other half in the same rooms from which they were evicted. “We tried to sleep, but we were scared that the police would come in again and start throwing us out,” Faiyaz said. The evictions come as the first week of Ramadan comes to a close, leaving many of the workers observing the holy month with no food and no housing. The prohibition on eating and drinking in public has also posed a challenge for the now pavement dwellers. Many food shops are closed until sunset, and if the men do obtain anything to eat, they could get fined for doing so publicly. Musheireb eviction Chantelle D'mello The day after the eviction, numerous people could be seen moving more of their belongings from the buildings to the streets. Blankets, suitcases, towels and clothes could be observed in the area’s alleys and and street corners. Musheireb eviction Lubaib Gazir In some places, doors were broken down and ripped off their hinges. According to eyewitnesses, internal security forces who had enforced the evictions last night had caused the damage. Many people who spoke to Doha News complained that unnecessary force was used during the eviction. Longtime resident Lubaib Gazir, who saw the men being removed from their homes and posted about it on social media, said: “Some even had tears in their eyes, and most of them (were) just packing up whatever things they could from their houses – AC frames, gas cylinders, rice bags, clothes etc. Most of them didn’t know where to go next to spend their night, and were just waiting outside on the street clueless. It was such a sad scene seeing everyone flee out of their homes getting whatever they could from inside! It was kind of a night which I never saw in Doha before.” And Sayed, who is still looking for housing, said: “They could have said it nicely, but they didn’t. There was no humanity. Just force.” He also asked Doha News if any humanitarian workers would be on their way. When reached by phone today, a Nepali embassy representative said they were unaware of the problems facing some of their nationals, adding they could only look into the matter if someone filed a report. Thoughts? Ms. Hala • 9 hours ago I've known and heard time and time again that the area was up for demolition and no one could reside there. I've also heard people seeking out housing specifically in those areas because any area deemed to be demolished, land lords couldn't collect rent and therefore they could live rent free until they had to go. I've heard of families doing this over the course of last year. However, does that make it OK for the manner of this eviction? NO. Does that make their employers responsible to find them housing? YES. Is 200QR enough housing allowance? Depends on what rock you're under. SIGH... - Abdulrahman > Ms. Hala • 9 hours ago "Before evicting you, the sheriff will serve you with a copy of the writ of possession.324 The writ of possession instructs you that you must move out by the end of the fifth day after the writ is served on you, and that if you do not move out, the sheriff will remove you from the rental unit and place the landlord in possession of it.325 The cost of serving the writ of possession will be added to the other costs of the suit that the landlord will collect from you." http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/evictions.shtml ====== I remember reading articles of notices being posted and shared for over two years! The internal security force (ISF) was established under decree-Law No. 23 in 2004 and entrusted with many tasks related to the smooth running ans security of Qatar. Most recently, the ISF demonstrated their capabilities and professionalism during, the Gulf Cup 17 and West Asia Games, the high-level conference hosted by the State of Qatar. In addition to this primary role, the ISF collaborate with other national security agencies such as the Ministry of the Interior represented by the Civil Defense and traffic and patrol department in waging campaigns against traffic and civil law violators. The primary ISF responsibilities can be summarized as : 1) Assisting and supporting concern state agencies in maintaining security and stability. 2) Responding to terrorist acts and any other acts that may jeopardize internal security. 3) Ensure the safety of dignitaries, leader, and guests of the Qatar. 4) Work and coordinate stakeholders to combat smuggling crimes. 5) Dealing with the riots. 6) Securing conferences, meetings and other events. Don't see traffic rule enforcement in that list.... Forced evictions however could be covered under a few of those broad remits, most notably 1, 2, and 5 "the ISF collaborate with other national security agencies such as the Ministry of the Interior represented by the Civil Defense and traffic and patrol department in waging campaigns against traffic and civil law violators" - BBCA • a day ago If Ramadan is such a special holiday then I wish two things would happen during Ramadan: 1) Idiots in other countries should stop using Ramadan as and excuse to kill other Muslims (or any other people) and 2) Qatar Gov would actually be moved by the meaning of Ramadan and abolish Kafala and punish those, by law, that would continue to perpetuate the ancient system. Ramadan Kereem! 2 aspects of the current sponsorship system that needs to go away ASAP are the exist permit, and the NOC to switch employers, no matter how long you've been working. Both are morally wrong, and are hurting the country too. If they were living in a place that is going to be demolished, now they can only afford the partitioned villas that, most probably, will get another visit by police since most of them are illegal...catch 22... Isn't is the employers obligation to provide accommodation for its workers? how come the country allows such a thing happen during the Holy month, specially with all this bad press already out there? It breaks my heart... These gentlemen are fathers, brothers, sons that must provide the little they make to their family! An affordable rent here is like chasing unicorns...Mission Impossible!!! For the people that evicted them: Put yourselves on their shoes! What if it was YOU? What if you didn't have your fancy car and money? A house to go to with AC and food ready on the table?! To be sent to the curb, with all your things in this heat! Misha • 17 hours ago This is really sad and heartbreaking, especially during Ramadan. Seriously housing allowance of 200 riyals?! I doubt the cheapest hotel in Qatar has a room for a night at 200 riyals! If you can not afford to pay labors a livable wage, then either you dont have enough revenue to keep your business going or you are a coldhearted greedy person/company that keeps all the profit for yourself. Avatar Gareth Walters • 9 hours ago It is sad that these people have been evicted from their homes. low income areas are being knocked down to make way for new 5* luxury apartments, everything in Doha must be 5* they are building so many prestigious places that there is a severe lack of low income accommodation and living areas. Putting all these guys in labor camps is not the answer. Qatar needs to put some serious effort into building low rent, good quality accommodation, for what is actually the back bone of Qatari civilization and development DExp • 19 hours ago Send the photos to Amnesty Int, EU, and HR Int.., then go and stay at your company compound itself or your employers residential compound after intimating the International media groups, sleeping at street should not be your destiny.
Bornrich • 20 hours ago I'm not defending this action for one moment. However, Doha isn't alone in clearing slum areas in preparation for a major sporting event. Barcelona removed great swathes of slum in the run up to the Olympics. And even today Brazil is doing the same for the 2016 Games. With a cold, hard, rational head, most would agree this has to be done for the public interest. (I visit this area on a regular basis and have been concerned for the health and welfare of the inhabitants.) However 'public interest' is a broad city planning concept and invariably there will be individuals who lose out. There's also a concern that private interests will take over – landlords demanding business and residential rents ten or twenty times the current rate. Effectively, these people haven't just lost accommodation, they've lost their 'right to the city' and that's a great shame for any world-class city.
In my mind at least the issue is not should they have been evicted, or should the area be cleared but it is in the manner in which the order was executed and the insensitive timing of the event (first week of Ramadan). It would not have taken a lot of effort for a small group of ISF agents to visit the area three weeks ago, walk around and tell the people face to face that there will be a planned eviction happening on x date. That way they can be sure that the residents have been informed and that they at least have a fighting chance of finding alternate accommodation. This approach would also benefit the ISF as the likelihood of them being confronted with aggression on eviction day would be reduced. Humans are capable of extraordinary things when acting out of desperation and self preservation, it would be wise not to test the limits.
Abdulrahman • 21 hours ago Just a few points: 1) It should be the responsibility of the employer / kafeel to help their employee / makfool to find to suitable housing. It's quite ridiculous and inefficient to give them a day off and ask them to go around and look for hosuing 2) The ISF were simply following orders, so don't hate on them 3) It's safe to say that most of the tenants in this case knew that they were to be evicted. That the eviction took place during Ramadan is unfortunate, but had the tenants not ignored the eviction notice and left when they were 1st asked to leave, all of this could've been avoided
Expat Girl > Abdulrahman • 20 hours ago In response to your points: 1) I couldn't agree more! Not only is it ridiculous and inefficient, but it is negligent and, to me, lacks any sort of human compassion 2) I doubt the orders contained mandatory provisions that the orders be carried out in such a barbaric and inhumane way as described above (although I could be wrong); so I do feel that the way in which the orders were executed are to the accountability of ISF 3) You may be right... it may be safe to assume the tenants knew they were to be evicted (although we can't be sure) but I guess I am just so saddened by the thought of these poor guys that I suppose I don't really care what they knew or did not know... I'm just sad to think about them, what they went through, and where the they are right at this moment; I don't know, I guess I could describe it best by saying it makes me want to cry. I do wish that maybe Ramadan would have inspired ISF (or those who give their orders) to be more compassionate; I know there is no requirement to forgive tenants to be evicted, just maybe do it in a more compassionate way out of the sense of human decency. What I do know is 200 QAR housing allowance is a joke and the employers should be ashamed of themselves.
You do realize leaving is not an option for everyone? some of these oppressive employers will not give their workers exit permits if they are trying to leave. Observant One > osamaalassiry • 5 hours ago With excess force? Sir I have 25 years policing experience in Australia Solomon Islands PNG Cyprus and Lebanon. And am currently on leave from my home police force where I hold a high rank I also hold graduate and post graduate quals in leadership and. Public sector mgt. If the reports are true then the brutal tactics used are not simply executing an order they are crimes themselves. The action of the ISF is cowardly and morally corrupt as well as unethical and inhumane. There are orders and then there are decisions made at the operational level as to how they are executed. Using force on passive person is not acceptable at all and those responsible should be held to account. But we all know they won't. Who said middle east is synonymous with Islam? It did originate here ,but arabs and their culture is far away from Islam. Majority of muslims aren't even arab. This situation has nothing to do with islam anyway. This situation has to do with greed of people wanting their upscale buildings going up as soon as possible and not caring who gets stepped on. As Qatar is a wealthy, developed and modern country. I assume the public welfare office will send its staff over to get these homeless people into temporary housing and help them find new homes. Especially with the recent bad press about their situation one would expect that Qatar has done the most to ensure there is no potential for further bad press. So Dear Doha News, what is the progress here? Are they in temporary housing now? What is the welfare office saying? Saffa • 8 hours ago This is not a welfare state. The government has no requirement to look after the welfare of these people. Neither do their companies. I've known for years now that this area was going to be demolished and re-developed. These people were also aware of that. All stories have two sides. We are just reading one of them. Yes I do agree, communication is p!ss poor in this country and the heavy handed approach is often too liberally applied, but I think there is fault on all sides here. Flame away folks, but that is the reality of it all. As LIOLI likes to say, LIOLI... In other countries, these folks would build themselves informal housing out of whatever materials they can find. ODB, if that is your expectation, you should have done your research before you came. I don't expect any country I migrate to to provide me with accommodation when I head there to work. Oh, and lucky you to be "invited" to come and work. I wasn't, I chose to come here to work. Somehow, just because Qatar has an income of billions from it's natural resources, everyone expects them to give it away to everyone who comes here? WTF, is this a socialist country? No, it's an emirate with a single titular (benevolent monocratic / autocratic) ruler. Wake up and smell the cooling coffee, no one "owes" us anything in this world. The only expectation we have is to not get out of life alive, oh and pay taxes unless you can avoid them legally. Yacine, if it's not a normal development, then why does it occur in so many countries around the world? Do we really want to go back to the days of the work-houses of the Industrial Revolution in Britain??? Those were a resounding success weren't they. The reality is, people have come here at the chance of earning a higher wage than they can get back where they came from. To do that, they make sacrifices, and probably do so willingly. That there are other people all to ready to exploit them is a sad and unfortunate reality. Favelas of Rio and Alexandra Township Johannesburg; Informal settlements both, with the inherent problems thereof. Msheireb was a favela of Doha, just contained within old buildings with AC units. Poverty is alive and well in other areas of the world too. outdoorsboys > Saffa • 4 hours ago The expectation of any immigrant worker is that accommodation will be available- the fact that these workers have an 'accommodation allowance' shows that employers are expected to make suitable arrangements. Of course you are 'invited', Qatar needs your expertise in whatever field. The government grants a visa specifically for your skillset. You didn't just get a plane here then hope for the best. I am in the fortunate position of having a well paid job with appropriate accommodation. These men are, everyone of them, being exploited. Yes, they made the decision to come here - to work , to make a better life for their loved ones back home. That does NOT mean that they should be treated like cattle. They don't expect anything for nothing, but it seems that even the little they have is taken away along with their dignity, which is shameful in my book. Expectations as workers in Qatar, is respect and a decent place to rest their heads. The emergence of favellas is not a normal development that we should accept. It is the indication of the complete failure of the state to provide proper jobs, salaries, education, healthcare and housing to people. That Qatar is actually importing these issues and bringing more people to populate its "favells" as you call it is funny but shows how poor planning is done here and how bad the decision to bid for the World Cup was in the first place. Western countries struggle to host big events even if they have most of the infrastructure ready. For Qatar this struggle is even bigger and Qatar unfortunately does not have the means to tackle it. Coco • a day ago 2 months free rent...maybe that was an initial sign? It might sound mean but if you haven't been in the middle of 600 asian workers, some under the influence of luma, all wanting to rip apart the white guy that tried to help, you're not allowed to judge me. That aside... I feel for these guys but 200 qar allowance for housing? How did those companies get those contracts approved by the ministry? How are those companies still operating? PS: I've seen ISF helpless and powerless in front of large groups of "low income workers". I believe the authorities realize Qatar is an indian/asian colony and they're trying to instill fear...slowly but surely bullying will not work and other means of cohabitation hopefully will be found. No one really wants an organized country wide Sheraton incident. Food for the thought. ..

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