By Paul Osborne

FIFA has welcomed proposed labour law reforms in Qatar which looked to tackle the ongoing issue of working conditions for migrant workers ©AFP/Getty ImagesFootball's world governing body has welcomed proposed labour law reforms in Qatar which look to scrap part of the country's medieval kafala employment system which has caused huge outrage directed at the hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Officials from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA) held a highly anticipated press conference in Doha today where it released what it billed as "wide-ranging labour market reforms."

"We want to provide more protection to the expat community and (all) workers in this country, to provide them with more protection and safeguard their rights," said Salih Saeed Al-Sahwi, MOLSA's manager of labour relations.

Under the new proposals, migrant workers are able to apply for a permit to leave the country with their Qatari employer having to provide "compelling" proof of any objections over the workers right to leave.

Disputes would be resolved within three days by a special committee.

Under the Government's new proposals, workers who sign a fixed-term contract would be free to transfer to a new employer at the end of their contract.

But those who sign an indefinite contract would have to work for their employer for five years before being allowed to change positions.

If foreign workers want to change jobs earlier, they would still need the permission of their employer.

Other key points of the reform package include:

· Increasing the fines for confiscating a worker's travel documents from a maximum of 10,000 Qatari Rial ($2,747/£1,633/€2,005) to up to 50,000 Qatari Rial ($13.735/£8,166/€10,028) per passport;

· Distributing a "model contract" that employers must follow in principle when drafting employment agreements;

· Requiring wages to be paid electronically to ensure wages are deposited into a worker's bank account on time;

· Enforcing a new accommodation standard for workers' housing.

The new labour law reforms are hoped to improve an image badly tarnished by revelations of deaths and atrocious working conditions for migrant workers in Qatar ©AFP/Getty ImagesThe new labour law reforms are hoped to improve an image badly tarnished by revelations of deaths and atrocious working conditions for migrant workers in Qatar ©AFP/Getty Images

Following the announcement, FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA Executive Committee member Theo Zwanziger decided to postpone a scheduled trip to Qatar in mid-May to until after the 2014 FIFA World Cup in order to "allow for time to gain a better understanding of the measures that were presented."

In an official statement on the governing body's website, Blatter declared the proposals as a "significant step in the right direction for sustainable change in the workers' welfare standards in Qatar.

He added: "We look forward to seeing the implementation of these concrete actions over the next months.

"We will continue our close cooperation with Qatari authorities as well as dialogue with all key stakeholders."

The reforms come off the back of a DLR Piper report, commissioned by the Qatari Government, which gave a selection of recommendations for labour law reform following heavy criticism over atrocious human rights abuses highlighted by Amnesty International and a number of other human rights groups.

Following the announcement of these new proposals, many of these groups have indicated that the changes do not go far enough with Amnesty International describing them as a "missed opportunity" and the International Trade Union Confederation calling them "cosmetic" without the necessary guarantees or a proper time frame.

They claim too that Qatar's notorious exit visas will remain in place with the Interior Ministry now deciding who can and cannot leave the country.

A key concern also lies in the initiation time of these reforms as proposals supported by the executive branch of Government must still be circulated to the country's Chamber of Commerce and approved by the Advisory (Shura) Council.

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