Labor Laws Concerning Migrants in Qatar
The following document is in reference to Qatar’s Labor Law that governs workers in the private sectors. If you work in a private company, you are entitled to receive the rights guaranteed by the labor Law.
There are exceptions. If you are a domestic worker (working in a private house as a maid or gardener), a farm worker, an employee in the public sector in companies established in whole or in part by Qatar Petroleum, and employed in specially regulated industries, you do not fall under the protection of the labor Law. This means in terms of work, you are only protected by what is mentioned in the contract with the employer, which is enforceable through a civil court.
Section I: Labor Laws for Private Sector Workers
1. Can my employer charge me a recruitment fee?
It is clearly prohibited by the labor Law to charge workers recruitment fees or expenses or any other costs.
2. What are the necessary permits I must obtain before I can start working?
Foreign workers need a work permit and a residence permit before they can start working in Qatar. The following documents are necessary in applying for a work permit:
- An employment contract
- A duly completed application form from the Ministry of labor
- A medical certificate proving that the employee is in good health
- A copy of the employee’s passport
- Two passport photographs
- Any relevant educational certificates
- The immigration card of the employer
- The employment visa
- Biometrics, including fingerprints
Workers will need to provide the following documents to apply for the residence permit:
- A valid passport
- Two passport photographs of the employee
- The employment visa
- A copy of the company’s Commercial Registration
- A copy of the business’s immigration card
- The employee’s medical certificate
3. Can my employer confiscate my passport?
It is illegal for employers to confiscate passports. Persons engaging in such act may be subject to fines of up to 25,000 Qatari riyal (QAR) (US$6,865).
Employers are required to provide accommodation that includes personal storage facilities for each worker where they can keep their personal belongings and documents, including passports. This storage must be lockable and accessible to workers at any time.
The passport can only be kept in the employers’ custody with the written consent of the worker. However, the employer must return the passport to the worker upon request.
4. Do I need an exit permit to leave the country?
Earlier, workers needed exit permits issued by the ministry of labor, to leave the country without their employer’s permission. However, this law has been abolished as of January 2020, and the ministerial decision extends the right to leave the country without prior permission to all workers (except those in the military and some workers holding key company posts). But employers can apply for exceptions for a few workers, and domestic workers are required to inform employers that they wish to leave at least 72 hours in advance.
Key company posts for which exit permits should be issued are limited to the following:
- chief executive and financial officers, responsible for the financial affairs of an establishment, including financial planning, financial risk management, record keeping and financial reporting;
- director in charge of supervising the daily operations of the business; and
- director of information and communication technology.
5. What should the employment contract include?
Contracts must be in Arabic and authenticated by the Ministry of Administrative Development, labor and Social Affairs (ADLSA). It is possible to attach to the Arabic version a translated one in another language. A copy is handed to each party to the contract.
6. How much should I be paid for working over-time?
Overtime provisions are at 125 per cent of the wage, as long as the actual working hours per day do not exceed ten hours (or two hours maximum overtime). Workers who work between 9.00 p.m. and 3.00 a.m. are paid 150 per cent of their basic wage, except for shift workers.
Daily working hours can exceed ten hours in very limited circumstances. According to Article 74 of the labor Law, workers may be asked to work beyond ten hours a day if “the overtime work is necessary for the prevention of gross loss or dangerous accident or for mitigation of the consequences of the said loss or accident.”
7. What is the legal procedure for resolving a dispute with my employer?
Workers can submit their dispute to the ADLSA. Lodging a complaint is free of charge for workers. Workers can lodge complaints only up till one year after the end of the contract. To lodge a complaint, workers can visit an ADLSA office, call the Helpline (16008), or email their complaint to LBRemail@example.com. Workers can also download the Amerni app. ADLSA provides FREE legal advice – call the helpline or visit the office if you need assistance.
Once a complaint is registered, the ADLSA will request the parties to attend a conciliation meeting. This is compulsory and the ADLSA will seek to resolve the dispute amicably between the parties. If a solution is not reached by the ADLSA meeting, the ADLSA submits the case to a Workers’ Dispute Settlement Committee (DSC). During DSC hearings, parties should be prepared to present their evidence, explain their reasons and answer questions from the Committee.
It is possible to appeal against the decision issued by the Workers’ Dispute Settlement Committee before the Appellate Court
8. Is there a minimum wage that I am entitled to?
A non-discriminatory minimum wage was introduced by Law No. 17 of 2020 and is effective from March 2021. It applies to all workers regardless of their nationality and the sector in which they work, including domestic work and other sectors not covered by the labor Law. It stipulates a monthly minimum basic wage of QAR1,000 (US$275), and minimum allowances for food and accommodation of QAR300 (US$82) and QAR500 (US$137), respectively. Therefore, the minimum wage will be calculated as follows:
If the employer provides food and accommodation: QAR 1,000
If the employer provides accommodation but not food: QAR 1,300
If the employer does not provide accommodation and food: QAR 1,800
9. Am I allowed to join a trade union?
No. Workers are banned from joining trade unions and striking. However, worker committees – enterprise-level unions – are permitted at establishments in which the number of Qatari workers is 100 or more. Enterprise unions in the same industry can affiliate into an industry-wide federation.
10. Can I change jobs if my contract with my current employer is still in force?
Yes, you can change your job without the permission of your employer, but you will need to notify them on time.
Workers can change jobs at any time during their contract. They should notify their employers through the electronic system of the ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs (ADLSA).
This notice must be given depending on how long the worker has held his/her job:
- one month in advance if the current job has been held for 2 years or less;
- two months in advance if the current job has been held for more than 2 years.
- If the change occurs within the probation period (which cannot exceed six months), then the worker must give at least one month notice through the electronic system, and the new employer will have to reimburse recruitment costs to the previous employer. The reimbursement cannot exceed the basic pay of two months and does not apply to those who are recruited locally. The fee is reimbursable only for those recruited to work in Qatar for the first time.
Workers will not incur any fees to change jobs. They will be entitled to service end-of-service benefits, get full payment due for any annual leave, collect their pay in full during the notice period, obtain a new QID and health care card (from their new employer).
There are exceptions to this law. If there is a non-compete clause in the employment contract, then the worker will not be able to change jobs within the same economic sector for at least one year after leaving the job. If the employer has failed to fulfill his/her legal obligations, the worker will not be bound to observe a notice period.
11. What should I do if my current employer is preventing me from exercising my right to change jobs?
If you feel that your current employer is unfairly preventing you from changing jobs or if you need more information, please contact the Ministry of Administrative Development, labor and Social Affairs labor Relations Department on the hotline 16008, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit one of their offices.
12. What are the legal working hours in Qatar?
Legally, workers can only be asked to work for eight hours per day, or 48 hours per week. During the month of Ramadan, legal working hours are reduced to 36 hours per week, or 6 hours per day.
In the summer months, working outdoors or in open spaces for more than five hours is banned, from June 15th until August 31st. Working in open spaces during this period is completely banned between 11.00 a.m. and 3.00 p.m.
All workers are entitled to one rest day per week and a daily rest break.
Section II: COVID-19 Related Developments in Qatar
- All Qatar Visa Centers have been closed until further notice. Visas can be renewed online or at the airport. Foreign nationals whose residence permits have been cancelled may, subject to immigration approval, remain in Qatar for up to 90 days, as opposed to the usual 30 days after visa cancellation.
- Employee complaints must be submitted online using the Amerni app; negotiations are to occur by telephone and the parties shall not be permitted to attend in person.