Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 18:28 UK

Qatari law 'will protect' maids

Abused Sri Lankan maid in Saudi Arabia
Foreign maids say they face abuse and exploitation in Gulf countries

A draft law has been put forward in the Gulf state of Qatar for the first time to protect domestic workers' rights.

The law will oblige employers to pay wages on time and give their workers a paid day off per week and three weeks' holiday a year.

There will also be a new mechanism for settling disputes between employers and their employees.

Maids and nannies, mostly from South and East Asia, say ill-treatment and wage non-payment is rife in the Gulf.

The draft law has been approved by Qatar's advisory council, and has now been sent to the emir, whose approval is seen as a formality.

BBC Middle East analyst Roger Hardy says the key question is whether the Qatari courts and police will implement the new law, or continue to give well-connected employers the benefit of the doubt.

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