QFC, Commercial Bank, and the International Labour Organization joined HBKU Law in examining implications of pandemic on the workplace
Challenges to workplace conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic were explored at an online colloquium organized by the College of Law at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in partnership with the Employment Standards Office of the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Employment Laws and Regulations on January 12 highlighted the pandemic’s unprecedented effect on workplace and employment laws. With a view to highlighting contemporary problems, the symposium gathered industry specialists to explore how policy and lawmakers can address the new circumstances.
Chaired by Susan L. Karamanian, Dean of the College of Law, HBKU, panelists navigated multifaceted issues raised by dramatic changes in basic workplace arrangements, from working hours, to sick leave and annual leave, and health and safety requirements. Is existing law sufficient to address unforeseen, exceptional circumstances, and if not, what reforms are needed?
Bringing together a range of perspectives, the symposium featured presentations by Luigia Ingianni, Commissioner, and Daniel Patterson, Data Protection Officer, from the QFC’s Employment Standards Office; Jassim Saud Al-Thani, Senior AGM – Chief Human Capital Officer, Commercial Bank; and Alix Nasri, Migration and Employment Specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Commenting on the event, Jassim Saud Al-Thani, Senior AGM – Chief Human Capital Officer at Commercial Bank, said: “Just like any other sector in the country, the financial sector has been exposed to the impacts of COVID-19. Being a leading bank in Qatar, Commercial Bank was well-equipped to provide its staff with the right tools to work from home, hence allowing its customers to bank conveniently from any place. It is an honor to take part in this interesting webinar as our experience with the pandemic is indeed worth sharing.”
Speaking after the event, Dean Karamanian said: “We appreciate the insights shared by our expert guests, who examined whether employment laws are keeping pace with the new workplace conditions. There are stark challenges facing lawmakers when seeking to balance interests and rights. We aimed to leverage our insights at the College of Law, and those of industry partners, to highlight long-term solutions.”
Luigia Ingianni, Commissioner of the Employment Standards Office of the QFC, added: “The world of work has been profoundly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the entire legal landscape has been shaken up. All challenges have a common denominator, the workers’ safety and health that now, as never before, must be put at the center. Ensuring the safety and health in all workplaces, to all employees, and defining specific measures tailored to the different risks to which employees are exposed must become a policy priority, not only to protect businesses and jobs but also to bring the economy to a sustainable recovery direction”.
The College of Law regularly holds events that showcase its research interests and activities. For more information, please visit cl.hbku.edu.qa.