While regulation is necessary, it can sometimes unreasonably inconvenience the employer, recruiter or migrant worker without addressing, or correcting the problems. In many cases, regulations create loopholes to worsen the safety and welfare of migrants.
For example, attestation of employment demand letters is a welcome move to curb fraudulent job orders which now needs to also scrutinise employers’ commitment to Covid-19 health protocols.
But its effectiveness rests on proactive embassies to carry out the attestation services of rewarding job orders expeditiously and fairly. Otherwise it prevents gainful employment, or worse, compels migrants to bypass the legal system.
Recruiters have not been able to smoothly deploy workers to Qatar. The Qatar Visa Center (QVC) was set up as a ‘one stop’ window to facilitate medical tests and biometrics, but is accused of lack of transparency. In the past, a handful of medical centres approved by the government could be used for the pre-departure medical tests.
Now, QVC alone cannot keep up with applicants and the backlog from the lockdown months, impacting over 7,000 Qatar-bound Nepalis, says Sujit Shrestha of NAFEA (National Association of Foreign Employment Agencies).
The QVC management has been accused of providing appointments selectively to well-connected manpower companies. “If we take an appointment in July, we get dates for September and October,” says Shrestha. “How can we work like that when Qatari employers are in a hurry to recruit workers to complete their projects delayed during the pandemic?”
Nepali and Qatari authorities need to investigate these allegations against QVC and ensure it operates as intended.
The latest is the challenge of vaccination. Inconsistent vaccines requirement, authenticity of vaccine certification and wide availability of vaccines have been problems. The J&J Janssen jabs are ideal for migrant workers because a single dose saves outbound migrants time, and it is recognised by destination countries — unlike the Chinese jabs that are not accepted in countries like Saudi Arabia.