• The reforms were approved on 27 October
  • Reforms won’t come into effect until 12 months after the law is published in the official gazette
  • Qatar’s labour laws have been widely criticised for leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has approved changes to the country’s controversial labour sponsorship (kafala) system, which is used to monitor migrant workers.

The reforms were approved on 27 October, but won’t come into effect until 12 months after the law is published in the official gazette, according to the Qatar News Agency.

Qatar’s kafala system has been widely criticised for leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation and has been likened to a form of modern-day slavery by the International Trade Union Confederation.

Under the current system, Qatari nationals earn money by sponsoring migrant workers and have the power to prevent employees from changing jobs or leaving the country.

It is thought that one of the areas of focus in the new reforms is the appeal process for employees who are denied permission to leave the country by their employers.

Under the new law, migrant workers will not need permission from their sponsor to change jobs.

The latest move to reform Qatar’s labour legislation comes 17 months after Doha promised to abolish the kafala system in May 2014.