Nepal Qatar

Nepal - Qatar: Information for workers

Nepali migrants face difficulties making informed choices regarding their most suitable destination country despite the government’s efforts to produce substantive information detailing the specific labour needs abroad. A range of print and multimedia resources exist to assist migrants preparing for departure, all with differing levels of uptake and reach. A wealth of information about safe recruitment is available on two government websites, including relevant legislation, databases of blacklisted agencies, and orientation essentials for arrival in the destination country. These resources, though, are mostly used only by experienced or educated migrants. Aspiring migrants, particularly women and those from remote areas who do not speak Nepali, cannot write or read or have little or no experience of the internet, still rely primarily on agents and other migrants – often leaving them vulnerable to misinformation and fraud. All Nepali migrants travelling through regular channels must attend a two-day pre-departure course; those migrating irregularly, including many women, are excluded. First-time departees generally find the course useful; returnees are often critical about the lack of more country-specific information. Not all the private institutions that offer the trainings stick to the set curriculum, and there is little focus on fraud by recruitment agencies. Many training providers also certify individuals who have not attended classes, on payment of the course fee, and many have a business arrangement with recruitment agencies which can be a conflict of interest, and in some cases, another rent-seeking opportunity. Migrant resource centres have been set up in passport application offices in 39 districts across Nepal under a joint initiative with the Swiss government. These centres, along with their outreach volunteer, print and broadcast programmes, are having some success in raising migrants’ awareness of their rights and potential abuses along their migration journey, although they do not address push factors or the powerlessness many face when making their decision to migrate. The Nepali authorities also work closely with the ILO to deliver trainings, campaigns and targeted publications. However, access to information alone does not prevent contract substitution or the payment of illegal recruitment fees and other associated costs with many migrant workers acknowledging that they felt compelled to pay despite being aware of the “Free Visa, Free Ticket policy”.

The provision of labour information to migrants in Qatar is patchy but has improved, in the context of the technical cooperation between Qatar and the ILO. Little information on fair recruitment practice appears on the ADLSA’s website, and the Arabic sections – illegible to most low-wage migrants – are more developed and up-to-date than the English. These online resources lack essential legislative texts and offer no databases of recruiters or employers who have been banned because of malpractice. A recently launched migrant worker portal on Hukoomi, the government’s official information website, provides more comprehensive information in the languages spoken by Qatar’s largest migrant communities, but fails to reflect important legislative reforms governing labour migration and protecting migrant rights. Positive developments, though, have occurred. The Qatari Labour Ministry has launched a mobile phone application allowing migrants to submit permit extensions, and to file complaints against agencies and employers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hukoomi launched a platform connecting migrant workers to volunteers speaking 10 different languages to enable them to seek health and other advice as well as providing contacts to ADLSA’s complaints unit. In partnership with the ILO, the ministry has broadcast announcements on forced labour and human trafficking on Qatari radio and television as well as through social media platforms; has hosted a series of webinars and conferences for businesses regarding aspects of labour law; and has opened dialogue with global unions and federations. In March 2021, the Government Communications Office launched a Whatsapp service providing free information about Qatari labour law and regulation. The ILO has also assisted ADLSA in the production of a number of awareness- raising videos, in relevant languages, on topics as varied as heat stress, contracts and the minimum wage, domestic workers, and the operation of the wage protection system.

Recommendations to the Government of Nepal:

  • Upgrade pre-departure training to include country-specific information, information regarding fraud risks, and grievance mechanisms.
  • Provide specialized pre-departure training for domestic workers and institute regular phone check-in procedures for domestic workers with Nepali consulates in Gulf states.
  • Complement pre-departure seminars with post-arrival orientation seminars and hold country-specific information dissemination sessions upon workers’ arrival and semi-regularly thereafter.
  • Exclude private employment agencies from any role in the provision of pre-departure and post-arrival orientation seminars.

Recommendations to the Government of Qatar:

  • Make key information for workers on the ADSLA website available in key worker languages.
  • Update the Hukoomi platform to include information on the 2017 Domestic Workers Law and the Labour Dispute Resolution Committees, and ensure that it is regularly updated to take account of legislation and policy changes.