Qatar/FIFA: Reimburse Migrant Workers’ Recruitment Fees

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Parents of Ram Kishun Sahani, a Nepali migrant worker who died in Qatar. 
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(Beirut) – Many migrant workers paid exorbitant and illegal recruitment fees to make the 2022 World Cup in Qatar possible, Human Rights Watch said today. But FIFA and Qatari authorities have yet to commit to a remedy fund for serious abuses against migrant workers, including many workers in serious debt from paying these fees.

“With 30 days left until the tournament, there is a slim window for FIFA and Qatari authorities to correct course and commit to remedying past abuses that have stained the 2022 World Cup,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Unless FIFA and Qatar act, then the real ‘legacy’ of this tournament will be how FIFA, Qatar, and anyone profiting from this World Cup left families of thousands of migrant workers indebted after they died and left many migrant workers who had their wages stolen uncompensated.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 45 migrant workers, between November 2021 and October 2022, from Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Nepal, including seven families of deceased migrant workers; 26 recruiters from Bangladesh, India, and Nepal; five Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy contractors; and three migrant workers working in human resources departments of three Qatar-based recruitment companies.

Migrant workers said they had paid unaffordable recruitment fees by borrowing at high interest rates, selling assets, and depleting family savings. Many workers fell into debt bondage and were unable to leave their job, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse and subject to further penalties if they failed to work. Debt bondage is a form of forced labor under international labor standards.

Past investigations and research, including on behalf of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, the body responsible for planning and delivering World Cup infrastructure, have indicated the pervasive nature of recruitment fees that often take months, even years, of wages to pay, even though they are illegal in Qatar.

The Supreme Committee imposed the Workers’ Welfare Standards in 2014 on all companies contracted to work on their projects, which among other standards designed to promote worker welfare, require contractors to ensure that workers are not charged any fees, and are reimbursed if they are. However, a 2021 audit of Supreme Committee projects found that 68 percent of workers paid an average of US$1,333 in recruitment fees.

In 2017, the Supreme Committee introduced the Universal Reimbursement Scheme, requiring a contractor either to prove that workers did not pay any fees or to reimburse the worker. As of December 2021, QAR 83.20 million (US$21.96 million) had been paid under this program out of the committed QAR 103.95 million ($28.4 million).

This initiative, while promising, is not mandatory even among contractors that operate projects affiliated with the Supreme Committee. It covers fewer than 50,000 workers, a fraction of the millions of migrant workers who are making the 2022 World Cup possible. The government of Qatar should consider scaling up the program as part of a wider effort to remedy abuses suffered by workers.

In many cases that Human Rights Watch documented, families were left to deal with loan sharks who continued to demand the debt repayment their deceased loved ones owed. Bulani Sahani, the father of a migrant worker who died in Qatar in 2022, struggled to take care of his grandchildren because his son had incurred debt from recruitment fees: “My son went [to Qatar] after borrowing money [$1,106] from many villagers. Now everyone keeps asking for it. They say that I must have received compensation for my son’s death, but I haven’t received a single rupee. How will I repay them? I don’t even have land to sell to pay them.”

Qatari authorities have previously stated that the practice of charging high recruitment fees is largely outside Qatar’s jurisdiction, but they have so far failed to address the role that Qatar-based businesses play in passing costs to recruiters that they know will be borne by workers.

While origin country recruitment agencies are notorious for charging workers illegal recruitment costs and fees, Human Rights Watch found that businesses based in Qatar are contributing to recruitment fees by imposing costs on recruiters that they know will be passed down to workers.

Employers in Qatar often refuse to pay recruiters in full or at all for their services, and sometimes even levy additional commissions on recruiters in exchange for job orders. Human Rights Watch documented several instances in which the human resources staff of Qatar-based companies required recruiters to pay for their travel and accommodation costs for interview trips to origin countries.

Even when an employer does pay the full cost and fees to hire a migrant worker, this action does not guarantee that a migrant worker is also not paying fees. Qatar-based companies’ failure to conduct sufficient oversight of recruiters allows some unscrupulous recruiters to “double dip” and charge both employers and migrant workers.

Businesses have responsibilities to uphold human rights throughout their operations, including recruitment agencies they hire. The pervasiveness of charging workers illegal recruitment fees suggests that employers are failing to conduct proper oversight, whether over their own human resources employees, or external labor suppliers or recruiters, in either Qatar or the origin country.

When workers do not pay recruitment fees, the benefits are significant. “I recently sent my first paycheck just in time to pay for my daughter’s school bills,” one worker employed by a Supreme Committee contractor said. “If I had another extra bill to pay as loans for recruitment, I would be receiving money in one hand and giving it away with another to pay for something that is simply not worth it… Spending for expenses like my daughter’s education is worth working hard for, it gives me motivation.” He had previously turned down a job offer in Qatar that required him to pay a recruitment fee of 120,000 Kenyan Shillings ($992).

Given the inadequacies of the current reforms due to their late introduction, narrow scope, or poor enforcement, on May 19, 2022, Human Rights Watch, alongside other migrant rights groups, labor unions, fan groups, abuse survivors, and human rights organizations initiated a campaign demanding that FIFA should establish a comprehensive program to provide remedy for all abuses related to the 2022 World Cup, including unexplained deaths, injuries, serial wage abuses, and exorbitant recruitment fees. To fund this, FIFA should reserve an amount at least equivalent to the US$440 million prize money provided to teams participating in the tournament. It is likely that in many cases, whether it is compensation for deaths or wage abuses, many beneficiaries will use part of the support to repay outstanding loans associated with recruitment fees. With a month before the 2022 World Cup tournament begins, however, FIFA and Qatari authorities have failed to publicly commit to a remedy program.

“Qatari authorities, businesses, and FIFA had a dozen years to tackle the scourge of illegal exorbitant recruitment costs, but with small exceptions have failed to do so,” Page said. “Now the only way to fundamentally address the lost wages from recruitment fees is through a remedy fund for workers.”

Qatar’s estimated $220 billion World Cup infrastructure construction bonanza, carried out at a feverish pace over the last 12 years, necessitated recruiting millions of migrant workers, many from Asian and African countries. Thousands of origin country-based recruiters facilitated the placement of these workers.

In a hyper-competitive market with limited positions, recruitment fees paid by workers to recruiters often become a key criterion in their selection even though Qatar prohibits charging workers these fees. At the same time, recruiters also engage in fierce competition with other recruiters in their own countries, as well as other origin countries, to procure contracts from Qatar-based companies. Hiring companies command enormous power over the business practices of these recruiters, who depend on them for their business survival.

The impact of charging illegal recruitment fees has severe ramifications on workers and their families, who often take on loans to pay for them. Among 10 people interviewed who had paid off their recruitment fees, it took them between four to 24 months to clear their debts. But some workers died or were sent home without their contractually owed salary and other benefits before they could clear their debts.

In many cases that Human Rights Watch documented, employers in Qatar had turned their backs on workers’ families, leaving them to deal with loan sharks who continued to demand the debt repayment their deceased loved ones owed. Mairul Khatun, the widow of a migrant worker who lost his life in Qatar in 2021, said, “He paid 150,000 rupees ($1,251) for the job, which he borrowed at a 36 percent interest rate. His loan is still unpaid.” Khatun was left struggling to feed her children and pay their school fees, while also repaying the debt borrowed to pay recruitment fees for the very job that lead to her husband’s death.

Another worker who went to Qatar on a two-year employment contract borrowed $1,300 from three separate money lenders. But he was unexpectedly sent back in 2022, within seven months of his two-year contract, and is currently being harassed by the local money lenders. “If I had known I would be sent back in seven months, I would not have paid so much money,” he said.

Business Malfeasance in Bids

There is intense competition among companies to deliver low-cost bids to win large-scale projects in Qatar, which are often commissioned by the government itself. According to a 2019 research study by New York University’s Stern School of Business, labor accounted for almost 35 percent of the net value of all Gulf Cooperation Council projects that were under execution. In bid submissions, the prices of construction materials were relatively fixed by market values, whereas labor was a more flexible cost estimate that could be cut, including by omitting recruitment-related costs.

This allows businesses to put the burden on downstream players, like recruiters, to omit project costs from bids by extracting funds from migrant workers. Moreover, the lack of accountability for employers who compel migrant workers to absorb the costs further incentivizes companies to submit even more risky, inaccurate bids that do not reflect the actual costs of recruiting migrant workers.

Origin Country Recruiters Incentivized to Pass on Costs to Workers

Companies enable a race to the bottom among recruiters vying for contracts in Qatar, which has led to the current status quo in which their business model depends on worker-paid recruitment fees.

Origin country recruiters told Human Rights Watch that they undercut their business rivals by making offers to companies and recruitment agencies in Qatar that they know will require them to pass recruitment costs onto migrant workers. Qatari-based companies and agencies tacitly encourage this practice by refusing to pay certain costs associated with recruitment, sharing information on existing offers from other origin country recruiters, and creating a “bidding war” among such recruiters.

One recruiter said, “If I am willing to accept an offer in which the employer bears the costs of the ticket and provides a small service fee, another recruiter will agree to do the same work without any service fee. Then there will be yet others who will offer to work without even [requiring employers to pay for migrant workers flight] tickets. Then someone will instead offer a commission [a “kickback” (bribe) paid by recruiters to hiring company staff as a reward for using their services] and the size of the commissions offered will subsequently increase.”

Another recruiter said it was common for Qatar-based companies to intensify a bidding war of kickbacks among recruiters. A recruiter said that there is very little incentive to push back as bargaining too hard might “risk losing not just the current job order in consideration but also future offers as well as any potential referrals to other clients which we would otherwise not have access to.”

A 2014 study by Dr. Ray Jureidini, a migration expert at Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University, calls this “resentful compliance” by recruiters to stay in business. Ethical recruiters showed Human Rights Watch evidence of turning down job orders that could have been financially lucrative if they had been willing to require workers to absorb the costs.

Even when project budgets cover recruitment charges, including service fees, complicit companies pocket expenses and pass recruitment-related fees onto migrant workers. This was illustrated in the approved costings sheet, reviewed by Human Rights Watch, from a labor supply company in Qatar for a Qatari-based employer.

For a worker with a basic salary of 1,000 QAR ($275), the budgeted recruitment cost per worker to be paid by the employer is almost 3,000 QAR ($824) including 25 percent “overhead and profit” for the recruiter and airfare of the worker. Similarly, for a forklift operator with a basic salary of 2,500 QAR ($687.50), the labor supply company charges employers almost 6,000 QAR ($1,648), with a 30 percent recruiter “overhead and profit” and workers’ airfare. Human Rights Watch found, however, that the labor supply company did not in fact provide airfare and or pay other recruitment-related fees to origin country recruiters, and that the origin country recruiters instead charged the workers.

Origin country recruiters also said that an employer’s willingness to cover all the recruitment costs and fees varies by sector. For example, according to recruiters, the oil and gas industry has historically strong industry norms on responsible hiring, whereas it is relatively more difficult to get compliant employers in sectors like construction, security, and cleaning.

With the World Cup tournament one month away, ethical recruiters and contractors said that they have experienced more willingness to cover all costs related to a worker’s recruitment in addition to reasonable service fees from some hotels, catering companies, and events management companies, which were previously reluctant to pay costs and fees either wholly or partially.

Given this reality, well-established recruiters in origin countries operate a “hybrid” model of recruitment that is highly responsive to different clients’ sourcing standards. The same recruiter might be deploying workers “ethically” under the employer-pays model while charging workers exorbitantly for another, more lax hiring company.

Unethical Qatar-Based Company Personnel and Recruiters

In cases in which hiring company staff and recruiters work together to solicit and benefit from charging workers recruitment fees, it is not always clear whether the hiring company staff are acting on their own initiative or under company policy. A recruiter said, “In many cases, the owners might be assuming that they are complying with all requirements while their corrupt employees or their downstream partners – recruiters or supply companies – might be gaming the system. The human resources staff of employers are themselves migrants. Like all migrants in the Gulf, they are temporary, and their motive is to maximize their earnings while in the destination country. So kickbacks from recruitment fees can be a tremendous source of supplementary earnings for them.”

Similarly, Qatari recruitment agencies also are able to “double dip”: charging both the employing company recruitment costs and a commission from the origin country recruiter. A human resources manager of a Qatari recruitment agency with multinational staff, who deal with recruiters in countries such as Nepal, Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and Kenya, said that the agency has minimal due diligence or oversight regarding recruitment charges collected abroad by their staff.

“We don’t go too much into detail about the exchanges between our staff and the agencies they deal with in origin countries, but there is a certain ‘office rate’ [referring to kickbacks] that we charge recruitment agencies which vary by nationality,” he said. “Philippines, for example, are more ethical – but for other nationalities, there is commission: India (300 QAR), Nepal (350 QAR), Pakistan (600-700 QAR), Bangladesh (800 QAR), and Kenya (800 QAR). Beyond these ‘office rates,’ what the staff [at his agency] agree with their country’s recruiters is not our concern.”

Other studies have also found widespread kickback payments by recruiters in countries of origin to employer representatives, ranging from $300-500, $500, or $200-600 per employee.

It is also common for recruiters from one origin country to take responsibility to hire workers from multiple origin countries. For example, Indian recruiters are particularly adept at getting bulk demands for various nationalities from countries like Nepal and Bangladesh. An Indian recruiter said that they charge commissions from partners in different countries, as they themselves are also often paying to obtain job orders from their contacts in the Gulf, including Qatar.

“With my partners in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Kenya, I have a longstanding relationship and a fixed commission rate for visas in addition to airfare charges: from Bangladesh 100,000 INR ($1,346) per worker, from Nepal $200-400 and from Kenya and Uganda $300-400. If I charge them [partner agencies] more, they understand that the hiring company or the Qatari recruitment agency is asking for more commission which I have to share.” A Nepali recruiter, for example, helped his existing client in Qatar hire 10 Kenyans for which he got a commission of $550 per worker from the Kenyan agent that he shared with the Qatari client.

Costly Interviews and Trade Tests

Origin country recruiters play a critical role in screening workers by arranging interviews or trade tests for workers. It is common for hiring companies in Qatar to send representatives to workers’ home countries for interviews or skills tests. A majority of the 26 origin country recruiters interviewed said that they have often covered the costs of the delegations’ trips, sometimes by verbal agreement or as part of memorandums of understanding that are kept confidential. Human Rights Watch reviewed both types of evidence: exchanges over WhatsApp and email between recruiters and their clients as well as the memorandums with explicit provisions on recruiters having to bear responsibility. One stated:

 The Second Party [i.e. recruiter] shall be responsible for providing Visa, Hotel, Food for the First Party’s [i.e. employer] representatives in the country where the latter will conduct interview and trade test accordingly.

These costs could include business-class tickets, five-star hotels, transportation, food, and even entertainment. Recruiters said that they estimate anywhere between $4,000 to $7,000 for such interview trips, although it varies with the delegation size, seniority of the representative, potential volume of workers to be hired, and length of stay.

Recruiters often spend lavishly on hiring companies’ representatives, knowing that workers will bear the costs. A recruiter said, “I haven’t spent a single cent from my pocket as a recruiter. The cost must come from somewhere. And since I have not spent anything, you can figure out where the money comes from. It’s an open secret.” Only two recruiters said that they have been asked to provide bills they paid for airfare and at the hotel, which could indicate that the human resources personnel may be double dipping in such cases.

When “Employer-Pays” Is Not Enough

Even when an employer pays recruitment fee costs, Human Rights Watch interviews show that inadequate recruitment fees and double dipping by recruiters and human resources staff mean that it provides no guarantee a migrant worker will avoid paying recruitment fees.

Insufficient Payment

Recruitment fees need to be reasonable and commensurate with services provided by the recruiters. A key concern that recruiters raise is that even employers who do pay for their services do not pay a reasonable amount. In fact, compared to the standard recruitment practices, recruiting workers ethically requires recruiters to play a more hands-on role with additional safeguards, minimal reliance on subagents, and continuous follow-up to ensure workers do not pay at any point in the process.

Recruiters said that it is unreasonable for an employer to pay a service fee of $100-$150 per worker and expect them not to charge workers recruitment fees. Human Rights Watch research suggests that in some instances hiring companies in Qatar explicitly allow recruiters to charge workers to compensate for lower services fees. For example, Human Rights Watch obtained evidence where a hiring company provided $150 as service fees and allowed the recruiter to charge “up to $200” from the worker. In other cases, employers also deduct certain recruitment cost components or the service fee from the workers’ wages.

A recruiter said: “We are not a charitable organization but a business,” implying that when service fees are too low, they also charge migrant workers. However, there has been a lack of research and policy discussion on what are reasonable fees for recruiters. According to estimates by QDVC, a construction company in Qatar, the average cost of recruiting a worker, including the recruiter’s profit margin, was $440-$494, but to deter recruiting agencies from charging workers, it paid recruiters a minimum of $687 per worker, of which $549 was the agency fee for the services provided, including locating and providing workers, and the remainder was the administrative fee for the costs incurred. Recruiters from both Nepal and India told Human Rights Watch that $250-300 per candidate placed or, preferably, the equivalent of one month of a hired worker’s salary, would be a reasonable service fee amount.

Double Dipping

Even if the employer pays recruiters a sufficient fee in a timely manner, recruiters are notorious for double dipping. Hiring companies need to provide adequate due diligence to monitor whether recruiters have charged workers unjustified fees. Dr. Jureidini rightly calls this model the “employer-only-pays” model because the “employer-pays” model by itself does not guarantee a worker is not paying.

At least five Nepali and Indian recruiters interviewed admitted to double dipping. While most defended double dipping, one recruiter said he did it simply to maximize profit where it was evident that he could get away with it. Recruiters defending double dipping referred to factors such as the post-deployment services they provide to workers and their obligation to act as a guarantor for the workers’ conduct for up to six months after deployment. If a worker is not suitable for the work or decides to prematurely quit, the origin country recruiter has to recruit and deploy a new worker without additional charge, as per agreements with the Qatari hiring company or agency.

One recruiter said: “We are not dealing with commodities but with humans. We are held liable for the worker for up to six months. But how can we guarantee what they have in mind three months or six months down the road? How can we predict human behavior? Their willingness to engage in the job also depends on the conditions of work and living environment or salary, etc., which is the employer’s responsibility and not ours. Employers are also part of the interviews and screening process. But only we are accountable for them for six months into the contract so there are risks as we have to provide replacements [workers] for free.”

The “guarantee” requirement incentivizes recruiters to charge workers more money as they believe the employees are then less likely to leave their employers. Recruiters contended that if recruitment is completely free, the propensity for workers to quit the job early increases and that they will treat it as a “vacation” as they have nothing to lose even if they quit prematurely. Recruiters said other workers may also change their minds at the last minute before deployment.

Recruiters who have prior experience deploying workers ethically dismiss this concern. One recruiter who has mobilized thousands of workers through the employer-pays model said: “workers don’t drop out just because they are sent for free and indebtedness should not be the way to control them.”

But, indebtedness is held as a control tool in practice. As noted in a 2014 study by Dr. Jureidini, induced indebtedness that originates in the home country establishes the future context of employment in the receiving country and is a key instrument of coercion that forces workers to accept jobs and wages they did not initially agree to. Such situations can be described as debt bondage that can amount to forced labor.

A security guard from Kenya whose family back home is harassed by loan sharks on a daily basis for the $1,123 he borrowed for the loan, told Human Rights Watch: “At my salary and the overtime payment promised in the contract, I should have been able to pay it back in a year. But you see, the company delays payments, and never pays for overtime work, so I take more loans, to feed myself and my family back home. I keep going further and further in debt. Sometimes I think there is no way out. I will be trapped here working forever.”

Expanding Qatari Government Recruitment Fee Protections

Human Rights Watch also documented examples of migrant workers who did not pay recruitment fees. A migrant worker in Qatar currently on a short-term contract with a Supreme Committee contractor was recruited without any charge and reimbursed for his pre-departure PCR test: “If I had not come for free and had paid recruitment fees as is common for Indians, my first paycheck would be going to the local money lender back home, and not to my mother.”

Interviews with personnel from hiring companies and ethical recruitment agencies indicate that sustainable, ethical recruitment practices require Qatari authorities, the hiring company, and the recruiter both in Qatar and country of origin to be more involved and vigilant throughout the recruitment cycle. Interviewees whose work fell under the oversight of the Supreme Committee attributed the increased compliance efforts – including audits such as interviews with migrant workers selected randomly, as well as frequent inspections of worksites and workers accommodations – to have played a positive role in addressing recruitment fee malpractices.

In previous correspondence with Human Rights Watch from September, the Ministry of Labour stated that it “strictly monitors recruitment offices and does not hesitate to close any violating offices and issue appropriate penalties against them.” Qatari authorities reported to the ILO that the Ministry of Labour periodically inspects recruitment offices. In 2022, the Ministry of Labour shut down several recruitment companies and revoked their licenses for non-compliance with laws regulating recruitment practices in Qatar. Qatari authorities have also set up Qatar Visa Centers (QVCs) in origin countries to conduct medical examinations, collect biometrics, and review contracts, and they have said these centers have “restricted unregistered recruiters from engaging in illegal practices.”

Under responsible hiring processes, including in Supreme Committee-supervised projects, recruiters report hiring companies requiring them to fill out forms with detailed questions on their experience in ethical hiring, and training on ethical recruitment including those by the International Labour Organization or the International Organization of Migration. Origin country recruiters said Qatar-based hiring companies or recruiters also asked them to share their company policies, such as codes of conduct, as well as recommendation letters or contact information from past clients. Recruiters also said that employers conduct independent audits through a third party.

Other good practices include contracts between Qatar-based hiring companies or recruiters and origin country recruiters that contain detailed provisions on recruiter fees, and the former’s responsibility to bear all the costs related to the recruitment, including advertisement, interview trips, and venues for interviews.

Origin country recruiters said that another good practice was minimizing reliance on subagents, who can be difficult to supervise, and instead emphasizing direct recruitment, either by relying on technology (social media) or by doing village-level recruitment drives and investing heavily on information campaigns, counseling, and briefing sessions for workers. Human Rights Watch visited two such recruitment drives.

Some hiring companies and recruiters also run anonymous hotlines for suppliers or workers if company personnel seek to charge them commissions, kickbacks, or recruitment fees. Four recruiters said that their staff called job applicants multiple times to remind them not to pay anyone. One worker hired by a Supreme Committee contractor without paying recruitment fees confirmed that she received four calls from the recruiter reminding her not to pay anyone. “Had it not been for the calls, I would have paid the acquaintance [village subagent] who introduced me to the job offer as per his demands because I was scared that he had the insider connection to cancel my job offer,” she said.

Upon arrival in the destination country, several hiring companies said, they again asked workers if they paid any recruitment fees, first during their employment orientation, and then again three months and six months into their employment. Hiring companies said that as employees trusted managers more over time, they were more willing to share their experience of paying recruitment fees.

According to recruiters, the assurance that companies will be thorough in asking deployed workers about recruitment fees is critical to keeping recruiters in check.

Recruiters recalled instances in which Qatar-based companies found out from workers that they had paid various recruitment costs and required recruiters to immediately reimburse their families, or their contracts would be canceled. Human Rights Watch was shown proof of such a recent payment to a migrant worker’s family. One Supreme Committee contractor said that he invests in long-term relationships with recruiters from origin countries and works with them to improve their business practices and standards. This means allowing recruiters to take corrective actions when there are bad practices.

Finally, Qatar-based companies emphasized the importance of paying service fees to recruiters through formal banking channels. One recruiter said many Qatar-based companies are currently unable to furnish adequate evidence, such as bank transfers showing they have paid service fees that match the number of visas that the government has approved.

Good recruitment practices, although encouraging, remain the exception and not the rule. To provide remedies to workers who paid recruitment fees, the Supreme Committee developed the Universal Reimbursement Scheme. Contractors bear the burden of proving that recruitment fees were not paid, or have been reimbursed. A total of 266 Supreme Committee contractors have committed to this scheme, which covers 30,748 Supreme Committee workers and 18,066 non-Supreme Committee workers.

Human Rights Watch spoke to seven migrant workers who had been compensated for recruitment costs under the Universal Reimbursement Scheme. “At first, I was scared to admit to my management that I had paid fees,” one worker said. “But later, when they followed up again and I was assured that it would not cost me my job, I shared the truth. They reimbursed my father back home without demanding any proof of payment. I was not expecting it at all.” Another worker, who is receiving 150 QAR ($41) per month as part of the reimbursement scheme, reports this “unexpected” addition to his monthly salary has provided much relief and motivation.

Qatari authorities should build on such good recruitment practices to prevent payment of recruitment fees and expand access to remedy, including by expanding the Supreme Committee’s Universal Reimbursement Scheme to all workers in Qatar, shifting the burden of proof to contractors to prove that workers did not pay recruitment fees.

A Nepali worker in Qatar who paid a recruitment fee for his first contract but not for his second job said: “Even when the contracts are very similar in terms of wages or hours of work, you are in a much better place mentally when you don’t have to pay recruitment fees. When I had the burden of recruitment debt on my shoulder, I had to worry about so many different things: when will I finish paying off the loans or the pressure to pay the interest rate in a timely manner. The money lender kept putting pressure on my wife and harassing my family. There was always a weight bothering me. Now I am free of all that tension.”

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