DOHA: There is no national legislation for a crime called absconding in Qatar and employees who have been unfairly targetted with ‘absconding charges’ are free to seek justice, authorities have said.
This was stated by Qatar’s embassy in London in response to questions from Amnesty International about labour practices in Qatar.
The reply assumes significance in the wake of reports that some employers are using ‘absconding charges’ against employees to prevent them from changing jobs or as retaliation for any complaint. The employees can approach the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Interior for justice, the embassy said.
“If the worker believes that they have been subjected to retaliation, through a criminal procedure by the employer, the employee…must resort to the competent authorities of the Ministry of Interior, where the Human Rights Department at the Ministry of Interior undertakes to change the direction of any worker immediately, and without the consent of the employer, in the event that the latter’s abuse is proven against them in any form of abuse,” the embassy said.
An official at the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) had also said this week that the Ministry is currently working with the Ministry of Interior to address cases of false absconding charges against workers.
Means of retaliation
Assistant Undersecretary for Labour Affairs Mohamed Hassan Al Obaidly said this at a virtual panel discussion on labour reforms co-organised by MADLSA and the Embassy of Canada in Doha on Monday.
Al Obaidly said employers cannot resort to filing absconding cases against workers who complain as a means of retaliation.
“Currently absconding cases will not allow a worker to change employer, of course, if this came before the request. But we are currently working with the Ministry of Interior to make sure that employers cannot file absconding cases against workers if they decide to change their employers,” he said.
Al Obaidly added: “I would like to reiterate that employers cannot display retaliatory behaviour against the workers who complain. But if the employee is claiming the worker has left work, they have to submit such a complaint before the MADLSA and we will be following up on the case.”