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20 Nov 2020

Gulf: NGO launches campaign for GCC states to abolish absconding charges brought against workers by employers

NGO Migrant Rights has launched a campaign urging governments in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to abolish absconding charges and reform labour laws - disciplinary action taken against workers who leave their place of employment. Absconding charges are commonly used by employers who exploit their existence to harass and punish workers by filing false charges. The campaign also says governments continue to encourage employers to report absconding workers. The process heavily favours the employer over migrant workers who are unaware or unable to contest charges.

The campaign has provided case studies of workers' experiences and a comparison of absconding laws across the GCC.

It makes six recommendations to Gulf countries:

  1. Implement amnesties for workers currently facing absconding charges
  2. Penalise employers who misuse laws
  3. Investigate all cases to ascertain abuses which may lead an worker to leave employment
  4. Ensure worker complaints take precedence over complaints subsequently filed by the employer
  5. Pay especial attention to cases involving domestic workers
  6. Make it easier for workers to change jobs, particularly domestic workers