Despite the widespread use of the practice, only four of the companies revealed the discovery of recruitment fee payments when interviewing employees.
Qatar’s hotel sector has become more transparent overall since last year, according to a recent report by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centerwho also found that most of the major brands in the Gulf State’s hospitality industry have a “limited understanding” of recruitment fee issues and how to address them.
In his to research on the costs of recruiting workers in the hotel industry, the center ten brands disclosed at least one labor provider or recruitment agency, and four brands disclosed discovering instances of fee payment.
Unlike just four brands in 2021, ten of the 14 brands named at least one placement agency or labor provider. The brands are Accor, Ascott, Deutsche Hospitality, Four Seasons, Kempinski, Millennium, Minor, Radisson, Retaj and Whitbread.
“This is a critical step in the right direction, as disclosure of business relationships is at the heart of corporate transparency, signaling that brands are ready for scrutiny by investors, advocacy groups, unions and other stakeholders,” the center said.
The employer pays principle, human rights due diligence procedures, payment of fees, and the size and scope of their activities in Qatar and during the World Cup were among the six questions the Business and Human Rights Resource Center asked 30 hotel brands.
All 115 hotel properties in Qatar represented by these 30 brands will be fully booked by November. Of the 30 companies surveyed, 14 brands responded.
However, only two – Radisson and Kempinski – have a public policy aligned with the employer-pays principle, while only Four Seasons and Radisson have committed to publicly disclose and correct incidents related to recruitment risks and payment. charges discovered during the World Cup.
While the majority of competing brands claimed to have PPE-compliant policies, none of them provided proof.
To uncover fee payments, brands have increased their direct interactions with employees. Compared to just three hotel brands in 2021, nine brands said employees were interviewed at least once during the recruitment process.
Despite the widespread use of this practice, only four of the companies said they discovered recruitment fee payments when interviewing employees.
Even though it is banned in Qatar, the workers claim to have made payments ranging from $500 to $2,360 just to get a job in the Gulf state.
In testimony for the report, a Bangladeshi janitor said: “I was hired directly in Qatar. I did not use an agency. When I transferred from my old company to this one, the old company took money from me to release me. But, this money was not needed for the transfer.
As a result, the majority of them have debts that they are unable to repay, leading to financial hardship and in some cases even leading to serious mental health issues, as well as suicide.
The sector has been criticized for “inadequately” supervising and compensating employees.
In response to the report, a Qatari government official said Doha “has done more than any other country in the region to improve workers’ rights.”
“In line with international standards, new laws have been introduced to prevent abuse and exploitation in our labor market. The number of violations has been decreasing year on year as enforcement action takes hold and compliance increases among employers,” the official said in a statement to Doha News.
“It is illegal for businesses in Qatar to charge recruitment or related fees. The government has worked with labour-sending countries to open 20 specialized recruitment centers in eight countries to regulate the recruitment process and make deployment procedures faster and more transparent.
“Plans to open recruitment centers in several other countries are at an advanced stage. With new laws in place, the responsibility also falls on companies operating in Qatar, both local and international, to ensure they comply with the new standards.
“The government is also working closely with the business community and has launched several initiatives to ensure that all operators understand their legal obligations and workers are aware of their rights,” the statement said.
“Qatar has repeatedly said that systemic reform does not happen overnight and that changing the behavior of individual companies takes time. The reality is that no other country has come this far so quickly,” he added.
The report concluded by urging the sector to improve due diligence and partner monitoring, in addition to committing to workers’ compensation and increasing transparency through proper annual reporting.
“These findings suggest that the interview process for most hotel brands needs to be strengthened to ensure that workers who cite fear and intimidation are able to share their experiences of the recruitment process, including to be required to pay illegal fees,” the report said.