Press Release: Hotel chains in Qatar and UAE ‘failing’ to protect migrant workers ahead of World Expo and World Cup

  • 10/17 companies fail to show how they tackle risks to migrant workers in Qatar and the UAE
  • Only 3/7 respondents explain how they ensure suppliers in Qatar and the UAE meet their human rights standards
  • Only one company (Hilton) reports checking the human rights standards of its hotel property owners in these countries

London, UK / New York  – Hotel chains are failing to protect migrant workers in Qatar and the UAE ahead of major international events, as new research finds migrants risk ‘falling through the gaps’ in company human rights policies.

Click here to read the report.  

Migrant workers will be essential for hotel chains during the 2020 World Expo in Dubai and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

These workers face rip-off recruitment fees, restrictions on their freedom to change jobs, and not being paid for working overtime.

Yet today’s report finds 10/17 hotel companies surveyed failed to show how they tackle risks to migrant workers in Qatar and the UAE, while just three companies (AccorHotelsRadisson and Whitbread) refer to migrant workers in their human rights policies.

Marti Flacks, Deputy Director at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), said: “Hotel companies have made strides in building human rights into their global policies. Yet many are failing to protect migrant workers in Qatar and the UAE, who risk falling through the gaps. Until standards are enforced across their operations, hotel chains will continue to expose migrant workers to an unacceptable risk of abuse.”

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) surveyed 17 hotel companies representing 68 brands and 200 properties across Dubai and Qatar. 

Seven of the 17 companies responded (Four Seasons, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG), Marriott, Radisson, and Whitbread) while ten failed to respond. * BHRRC analysed the seven survey responses along with public disclosures from all 17 companies, plus testimony from migrant workers.

The report – Inhospitable: How hotels in Qatar and the UAE are failing migrant workers - reveals a stark contrast between hotel chains’ public commitments on human rights and how these are enforced in Qatar and the UAE.

While more than 40% (7/17) of the hotel companies have a global commitment to respect workers’ freedom of movement, only one (Four Seasons) bans suppliers from keeping workers’ passports. 

And while 71% of the companies (12/17) have public standards for their supply chains, only 3/7 respondents (Four Seasons, Hilton and Radisson) showed how they ensure suppliers abide by these standards in Qatar and the UAE.

Only one company (Hilton) reported conducting due diligence on hotel property owners it works with in these countries.

The BHRRC report argues these gaps between policy and practice emerge from the hotel industry’s business model, where between hotel companies, third-party property owners, and subcontractors, responsibility for workers’ rights can easily get lost.

Companies are also neglecting the specific challenges for workers hoping to organise and bargain collectively in Qatar and the UAE, where trade unions are banned. While 75% of companies have a global policy commitment to respect freedom of association, only three (Hilton, Hyatt and Radisson) showed how they provide workers with alternative means of organising in these countries. 

A separate BHRRC report out today finds construction companies in Qatar and the UAE expose migrant workers to an ‘unacceptable risk’ of labour rights abuse, with just 39% reporting a public commitment on human rights. Click here to read the construction report

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Media Contact:

Adam Barnett, Communications Officer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, [email protected], +44 (0)7753 975769, +44 (0)20 7636 7774  (London)

Notes to editor

  • * Hotel companies which failed to respond to the BHRRC survey were: AccorHotels, Deutsche Hospitality, Jumeirah Group, Kempinski Hotels, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, Minor International, Rotana, Shangri-La, The Indian Hotels Company, and Wyndham. BHRRC therefore analysed their already public disclosures.
  • Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, and Radisson had the strongest disclosures and gave examples of best practice on ethical recruitment and worker representation.