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External monitor release report on Qatar's World Cup sites

On March 12, 2018

Impactt, the external compliance monitor for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar, released their second audit for the Supreme Committee (SC), the government entity responsible for delivering World Cup infrastructure.

Impactt's monitoring covers all main contractors and subcontractors. Its auditing of 19 contractors found critical issues in the following areas:

  1. Excessive work hours - Impactt identified non-compliances related to high levels of working hours at 13 of 19 contractors. At 8 of these sites, working hours exceeded 72 hours per week and overtime exceeded 2 hours per day. Following the audit, contractors made progress on 32% of non-compliances. 
  2. Working consecutive days without rest  - At 8 sites,  workers worked an excessive number of consecutive days without a rest day. In the most extreme cases, three workers worked between 124 and 148 consecutive days without rest at one contracting site. 12 contractors did not have an accurate system to monitor working hours.  Following the audit, contractors made progress on 38% of non-compliances. 
  3. Contract substitution - Non-compliance and observations were found at all contractors audited. In some cases, workers' monthly wages were USD27 to USD70 lower than promised, and in other cases workers were assigned lower-skilled or lower-wage jobs than those promised. All 19 contractors audited were found to have issues relating to contracts, such as excluding key information from offer letters, not providing workers with a copy of their contracts, or not having contracts attested by Qatar's Ministry of Administrative Development Labour and Social Affairs.

Meaningful improvement was documented in:

  1. Partial repayment of recruitment fees - Three contractors piloted a new approach called the ‘Universal Payment’ model, in which workers are given an allowance to compensate for fees they may have paid during recruitment, without requiring receipts. Impactt had previously found that 96% of newly recruited migrant workers paid an average of USD 1,248 to work in Qatar.  The Universal Payment model will distribute USD 824,000 to 1,700 workers, or 10% of the workforce on SC sites
  2. Workers representation - 8,000 workers at 20 main contractor and subcontractor accommodation locations have participated in elections to choose representatives for a Workers’ Welfare Forum. Compliance with workers representation standards rose from 28% to 67%.  
  3. Accommodation - Impactt found overall high compliance with SC standards. 85% of workers at SC projects were housed in six compliant accommodation sites. 
  4. Retention of Personal documents - None of the 19 contractors audited were systematically breaching the WW Standards requirements, which require workers to have access to their passport and other personal documents at all times.
  5. Grievance Hotline - The SC launched an anonymous grievance hotline and awareness campaign. Of 178 workers interviewed, 78% were aware of the hotline and 87% trusted it.

Impactt exclusively monitors the World Cup Sites, whose contractors must abide by the relatively high standards set out by the SC that do not affect migrants worker conditions elsewhere in Qatar.  Even firms that may comply with SC standards on World Cup sites are unlikely to carry these standards over to non-SC projects, citing high expenses.

Whether the World Cup sites are meaningful testing grounds for long-term reforms is therefore still uncertain. Qatar has announced a number of labour reforms under the pressure of global scrutiny, some of which have intersected with SC standards.  Qatar is also implementing further country-wide reforms as part of its three-year technical cooperation programme with the International Labour Organization, including a recently announced labour panel for migrant workers grievances.