Qatar Labour Law changed on December 14, 2016 and the changes address employment contracts, changing jobs, exit permits, bans and
4 December 2016| Last updated on 19 June 2017
On December 14, 2016, Qatar implemented a new sponsorship law that was approved a year earlier in October, 2015. While there have been promises for major reform, many are disappointed with the continuance of the exit permits and NOC system.
This law applies to the entry, exit and residency of all non-GCC nationals, including domestic staff.
Here are the major changes in Law No. 21 of 2015:
Anyone moving to Qatar for employment must see a copy of their employment contract while still in their home country. This serves as a deterrent for companies who have expats move to Qatar expecting a certain position or salary and then being surprised by getting less than what they initially agreed upon.
The contract has to be approved by the Qatari government for an employment visa to be issued.
For existing expats, their length of service will remain as of when they first started working, not from the date this law goes into effect. Therefore, there’s no need for a new contract to be signed.
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While on a fixed-term contract, expats can change jobs without employer approval once they finish their contract. While on an unlimited contract, expats can change employers without approval after five years. A written notice about a job change is required to be given to the employer before the contract is up.
It remains unchanged that if expats wish to switch jobs before their contract expires, they will still need to get their employer’s permission. The only exception is if the employee can prove they’ve been mistreated or exploited by the employer, then the employee can petition for switching jobs. They also still need to apply to the labour ministry for a job change.
If your contract terminates, you will have three months to find a new job.
Exiting the Country
Exit permits are still in place. They can now be applied for directly to the MOI, but you’ll still need your employer’s permission to leave the country.
If your employer refuses to grant you permission, you can appeal it to the new Exit Permit Grievance Committee. You can do so online, in person or at a police station and you will get an answer in maximum three days. Your employer must have a valid reason for his refusal. Unless you are wanted in connection with a crime or you have defaulted on your debts, your exit permit will be granted. Family member can leave the country freely.
If an expat cancelled their RP and left the country, they no longer need to wait two years before coming back. They are free to return immediately if they have new employment.
If you are fired as a punitive measure, without appealing it or your appeal was rejected by the courts, then you won’t be able to return to Qatar for four years.
Processing Residence Permit
New expats will now have 30 days from the day of entry to process their RP, instead of only seven. Employers must return the employee’s passport to them once the RP process has been completed. It is illegal to hold the employees passport for any reason, unless the employee specifically requested in writing that the employer to hold on to it and they can retrieve it back at any time they wish.
The full text of the law can be found here in Arabic and the unofficial English translation can be found here.