Compliance & Audits: Construction Sector
The WWD continued to focus on the implementation and enforcement of the WWS across the SC’s project sites through comprehensive audits and inspections, which encompass accommodation and construction site inspections and ethical recruitment audits.
The team conducted monthly and quarterly reviews of contractors, focusing on capacity and awareness building to ensure they are implementing the WWS and ensuring compliance with changing regulations, such as the new minimum wage for workers and changes in summer working hours in outdoor spaces.
During 2021, the WWD reported an average compliance score of 78.3% for contractors across the construction sector, similar to compliance levels achieved in 2019 and 2020. Notable improvements have been recorded in relation to contractors and OCPs, such as:
The implementation of a pre-mobilisation approval process in 2017 has enabled the WWD to have greater control and visibility over the supply chain, ensuring that OCPs and contractors are WWS-compliant before they can be approved for deployment. This has helped achieve stronger compliance and enforcement of the WWS across sites.
Access to Remedy
The SC’s three-tier grievance mechanism, comprising worker interviews, Workers’ Welfare Forums
(WWFs) and a grievance hotline, continued to empower workers, offering them platforms to amplify concerns and make suggestions to improve welfare and safety, without fear of retaliation.
A total of 113 WWFs have been conducted at peak. These forums are the SC’s flagship platform that allows workers to share grievances via their elected Workers’ Representatives (WRs). They are trained in leadership, teamwork, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, equipping them to share grievances and suggestions for redress with their peers and management during forums.
The success of the WWF in the programme has led to the wider roll out of forums beyond SC projects, with 12 contractors offering the forums to 12,590 non-SC workers to date. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and MoL have attended several of these elections and forums to study the impact on employer-worker relationships and social dialogue, which in turn has influenced the nationwide roll-out of joint committees, mandated by Qatar Labour Law.
The SC’s grievance hotline continued to be a trusted resource for workers to raise complaints anonymously and also to receive guidance and information in dynamic situations such as COVID-19 or regulatory changes. Since the launch of the hotline, 1,008 complaints have been resolved out of 1,035 received.
Watch this video to learn more about how our forums are giving workers a voice:
The majority of migrant workers globally and in Qatar are affected by the practice of charging recruitment fees, which is illegal under international law and Qatari law, and prohibited by the WWS.
Many SC workers have inevitably paid recruitment fees in their home countries but are unable to provide proof, hindering reimbursement by their employers. The SC’s Universal Reimbursement Scheme, requires contractors to prove they have hired their workers ethically, thus shifting the burden of proof away from workers and onto contractors.
As of December 2021, 266 contractors were committed to the SC’s Universal Reimbursement Scheme, impacting over 31,000 SC workers.Eleven contractors have extended the scheme to cover 18,000 non-SC workers.
Watch how our reimbursement scheme is making a difference in the lives of our workers.
Air Ticket Allowance
The WWS mandates the provision of annual leave and return air tickets, or their equivalent value, for workers. This has supported workers to connect with their families back home or to provide additional remittances for savings and investment.
As of December 2021, 342 contractors and OCPs have provided return air tickets or equivalent allowances, totalling QAR 69.7 million (of which QAR 12.4 million was paid during the reporting period). This has impacted more than 41,000 SC workers and 6,670 non-SC workers.
The SC has persuaded a number of contractors to take life insurance for their workers to ensure decent compensation to families in the case of death or disability. This insurance is available worldwide, all year, and can be paid directly to workers’ families, compensating by a substantial amount ranging from QAR 50,000 to QAR 100,000.
As of December 2021, 23 contractors have implemented this initiative that is expected to benefit approximately 9,142 SC and 57,113 non-SC workers, despite not being a mandatory requirement.
In March 2021, Qatar introduced the first-of-its-kind non-discriminatory minimum wage of QAR 1,000 per month (up from QAR 750) for all employees, across all sectors in the country. All contractors and OCPs have implemented the minimum wage in line with the requirements under the Qatar Labour Law, which is expected to have benefitted approximately 18,000 workers working across SC projects in 2021.
For 2021, the SC’s external monitor Impactt Ltd covered initial and follow-up audits and inspections for 16 contractors and included a focus on workers’ wellbeing, implementation of the WWS and its potential impact on their lives in Qatar and back home.
Impactt identified significant improvements in the follow-up audits, with an overall increase in the ethical recruitment audit score from 70% to 80%, and an increase in the accommodation score from 79% to 84%. Notable improvements were reported in relation to: payment of recruitment fees and air ticket allowances, empowerment of workers through grievance mechanisms, and better access to medical care throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full details of these findings will be available in Impactt’s independent compliance report, due in the first half of 2022.