Q&A: Cheryl Guerra: “The WPS system ensures that companies do not renege on timely salary payment”

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 6 Jul 2016

Payroll expert highlights what Qatari companies need to know about the country’s new Wage Protection System

Cheryl GuerraThe Wage Protection System (WPS) is an electronic salary transfer system developed by the Qatar Central Bank and the Ministry of Labour to ensure timely and full payment of wages through a database. It was implemented in late 2015, and 1.5 million of the 1.7 million labourers in Qatar are now covered by the scheme. People Management spoke to Cheryl Guerra, payroll services manager at TMF Group in the Middle East, to find out what Qatar-based companies need to know about the system.
What are the benefits of the WPS for companies and employees?
The WPS system was initiated in Qatar mainly to protect the rights of the labour force. This measure enables the ministry of labour to ensure that companies do not renege on the timely payment of salaries. Another important benefit is that all employees enrolled in the system have proper salary bank accounts.
WPS in Qatar was expected to strengthen company compliance with the labour law, and reduce the number of payroll-related legal disputes, as employees should now receive their salaries on time. Has it achieved this goal?
All of TMF Group’s clients are fully compliant with the Labour Law in Qatar, and their employees are receiving their salaries on time. Based on this measure, the WPS implementation appears successful. However, with regard to any reduction in the number of payroll-related legal cases and disputes, this is something that only the local authority can confirm.
What key facts do companies in Qatar need to know about implementing the WPS?
Companies should take into consideration a number of key things: firstly, salaries must be paid in the local currency through a local bank and employers should coordinate with their local bank on the regulated salary transfer format to be used every month. Caution should be exercised in relation to all employment contracts which are locally executed and registered with the Ministry of Labour in Qatar. Salaries paid must match the labour contract - any deductions must be well recorded in WPS files; and finally expats who have received their salary abroad in home currency must now receive a salary in Qatar in local currency.
What are the penalties for not using the WPS?
The fine for not using the WPS is not less than QAR2,000 and not more than QAR6,000, and it depends on the severity of the offence. Visa restrictions, a reduction in visa quotas, the suspension of visa applications and a ban on new hiring can also be imposed on the company. The appointed manager of a company that is found not to be using the WPS can also face up to one month in prison.