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Under scrutiny as World Cup looms, Qatar extends minimum wage to all

In run-up to 2022 soccer tournament, country has been accused of enabling widespread labor abuses

In this Dec. 20, 2019 file photo, construction is underway at the Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)
In this Dec. 20, 2019 file photo, construction is underway at the Lusail Stadium, one of the 2022 World Cup stadiums, in Lusail, Qatar (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

DOHA — A minimum wage of $275 a month came into force for all workers in Qatar Saturday, official media reported, as the Gulf state overhauls its labor laws amid international scrutiny in the runup to the 2022 soccer World Cup.

The minimum became mandatory for all newly signed contracts from August 30, and will now also be compulsory for existing employment agreements.

It requires that all workers, including domestic staff, be paid at least 1,000 riyals ($275) for a month of full-time work — equivalent to around $1.30 an hour.

Employers are also required to either provide bed and board, or an additional 800 riyal a month allowance for food and accommodation.

Previously, there was a temporary minimum wage set at 750 riyals ($206) a month.

The state-run Qatar News Agency reported that the labor ministry had “announced implementation of new minimum wage for all workers starting Saturday.”

Campaign group Migrant Rights has said that the new level is too low and does not reflect Qatar’s high cost of living.

The labor ministry has said the changes will “boost investment in the local economy and drive economic growth.”

“Qatar is the first country in the region to introduce a non-discriminatory minimum wage, which is part of a series of historical reforms of the country’s labour laws,” the International Labor Organization said in a statement.

“More than 400,000 workers or 20 percent of the private sector will benefit directly.”

Qatar has made a series of reforms to its employment regulations since being selected to host the 2022 World Cup, which has required a vast program of construction dependent on foreign workers.

In previous years it was widely reported that Qatari construction firms regularly underpaid foreign workers and confiscated their passports on arrival, forcing them into perpetual slavery.

Qatar has said it has enacted legislation to cut down on labor abuses.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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