Salary Abuses Facing Migrant Workers Ahead of Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 | HRW



When “Henry,” a Kenyan man, received the complete list of required documents that allowed
him to work in Qatar, he thought all his prayers had been answered.[1] To secure a plumbing
job in Qatar, he had to take a loan at a 30 percent interest rate in order to pay a Kenyan
recruitment agent a fee of 125,000 Kenyan shillings (US$1,173). But Henry, 26, was happy
because his employment contract promised him 1,200 Qatari riyals ($329) a month, which
would allow him to pay back his loan, plus an additional food allowance, employer-paid
accommodation, and overtime payments for each hour of work he performed above the 8hours-a-day limit.
Upon arriving in Doha in June 2019 however, Henry’s excitement dissipated. The first month,
Henry’s employer had no work for him, which meant there would be no pay. The second
month, his employer withheld his salary as a ‘security deposit’. To feed himself and his family,
Henry was forced to take on more loans. Eventually, in September, he was paid for the first
time. But his salary was shockingly low at only 830 Qatari riyals ($228).
For two months, during which Henry performed backbreaking work as a plumber for up to 14
hours a day at a hotel in Lusail city, his employer paid him 30 percent less than he was owed in
basic wages. “Where was my full salary? Where was the overtime money and food allowance I
was owed? I was shocked, but not alone - the company had cheated 13 Kenyan workers along
with me,” said Henry.
While Henry was battling the bitter realities of working in Qatar as a migrant worker,
“Samantha” was getting ready to leave Qatar after being cheated of her basic and overtime
salaries for two years.[2]
Between December 2017 and December 2019, Samantha, a 32-year-old Filipina, either scrubbed
bathrooms or swept the food court in an upscale mall in Doha. She told Human Rights Watch
that her employer made her work 12-hour shifts, had her and her colleagues’ passports
confiscated and banned them from leaving the company-provided accommodations for
anything other than work.
In 2017, when she had made the decision to leave behind her two toddlers to work in Qatar, she
had agreed to work for a monthly salary of 1,800 Qatari riyals ($494). The contract stated that
for each hour of work above 8 hours a day, she would be paid 25 percent more than her basic
wage. In reality, Samantha worked for 12 hours a day and was paid 1,300 Qatari riyals ($357) a
month with no compensation for the overtime work she performed. When she asked why her
salary was less than promised and complained that the 25-day salary delays caused her family
in the Philippines to starve, her employer told her “to focus on her work silently.” He also
withheld her first month’s pay, saying it was “a measure of good faith, a security deposit.” A


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