Qatar has introduced new labour rules, which hands out tougher penalties for firms and individuals employing absconding or illegal workers.
According to the Ministry of Interior, companies hiring runaway workers will be subject to a recruitment ban lasting two years and be blacklisted, a statement said.
In addition to the recruitment ban, violators could also face imprisonment for up to three years or a fine of not more than QAR50,000.
Violators will also face a mandatory jail term of at least 15 days and a fine ranging between QAR20,000 and QAR100,000 if the offence is repeated, the statement said.
The new rules will be effective from May 1, 2014, according to officials.
The ministry has also stepped up the search for those sheltering and absconding illegal workers.
“The Search and Follow up department (SFD) is carrying out drives throughout the year to hold violators and those who employ them illegally,” Brigadier Nasser Mohammed Eissa Al Sayyed, director of SFD, was quoted as saying in the local media.
Despite existing penalties, many firms continue to flout the law, he said.
Al Sayyed added that many firms employ illegal workers to avoid recruitment and training expenses by luring them with better benefits. This in turn affects other employers who spent on recruitment and training of such employees.
He said that companies are allowed to lend or hire employees if they are done on a legal basis. Failure to comply with the regulations would result in firms being banned from hiring employees for a year.
Al Sayyed also noted that the complaints of absconding workers have been declining as a result of intensive inspections by the SFD.
Qatar’s total expatriate workforce stood at 1.3 million by the end of 2012, according to a QNB report. The construction sector was the largest employer of foreign workers in the Gulf state.