In 2015, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani issued law no 21 for 2015 regarding Regulation of the Expatriates Entry, Departure, and Residence. Here are the explanations for the main articles in the law.
Here are some extracts about the major changes to Qatar Labour Law with the official wordings used in each legal article.
Qatar Labour Law: Introduction
The employment relationship in Qatar is principally governed by the provisions of Law No. 14 of 2004 Regulating Employment.
The Qatar Labour Law ratifies the minimum standard of rights and benefits for employees to which employers must adhere as well as the obligations of employees working in Qatar.
The new Law No. 21 of 2015 detailing the regulations on the Entry, Exit, and Residency of Foreign Nationals has been in force since 2016.
Note that the term ‘recruiter’ has been used instead of the sponsor, but refers to the person or company who hired the worker
Article 7 – Leaving Qatar
- If an expatriate worker wants to leave Qatar, he or his recruiter should report to the concerned department at the Ministry of Interior at least three days work before the exit date.
- The expatriate worker may exit the country as soon as the recruiter informs the concerned department about his approval to let the worker go on leave.
- If the recruiter or the concerned department raises an objection, the expatriate worker can resort to the expatriate exit petitions committee.
- In case of an emergency for the expatriate worker, the committee shall take a decision on his exit permit request within three workdays.
- The Minister of Interior shall issue a decision to form such committee and specify its jurisdictions and the procedures to be followed by it, in addition to its mechanism of work.
Article 8 – Custody of Passport
- The recruiter shall hand over the passport of the expatriate worker or his travel document to him upon finalizing the necessary procedures of issuing his residency permit or its renewal.
- The worker can request in writing to the recruiter to keep for him such documents. But these should be handed over when requested by the expatriate worker.
- The residency permit shall be done or renewed within 90 days of its expiry date.
Article 12 – Residency Permits for Family
- Concerned department at the Ministry of Interior can grant residency permits for the spouse, undergraduate sons of up to 25 years old and unmarried daughters of the expatriate worker.
- However, such age condition may be exempted by the Minister of Interior or his deputy.
- Also, the expatriate worker can be granted a residency permit for his parent through approval by the Minister of Interior or whom he may ever delegate when such request is justified.
- However, the conditions for granting such residency approvals shall be regulated by a decision of the Minister of Interior.
Article 14 – Staying Out of Qatar
Expatriate workers who have residency in the country shall not stay outside the country for more than six continuous months unless they get a permit to return to the country before the passage of one year on their exit, on condition the expiry date of their residency did not exceed 60 days.
However, the Minister of Interior or his deputy may overlook such designated periods.
Article 16 – Designated Works Only
Expatriate residents shall only use their residency permits in the designated licensed purpose only. The worker cannot quit work at his recruiter’s or work at another entity without prior authorization.
Article 17 – Responsible Parties for Each Visa
Those responsible for the residency of expatriates are as follows:
- the employer for the expatriate workers
- the family head for his family members in the country
- the host for those on visit visa
- the concerned entities in the country for the expatriate coming to the country for other purposes
Article 19 – Notification About Workers Who Quit
The recruiter shall notify the concerned department within 14 days about the expatriate workers who quit working for him or his refusal to leave the country after the expiry or cancellation of his residency permit within the legal period or otherwise the expiry of his visit visa or the purpose for which he entered the country.
- The recruiter shall bear all the expenses of repatriating the expatriate worker.
- If the worker was working for other than his recruiter, such entity or person shall pay the cost of repatriation.
- In case of the death of the expatriate worker, the recruiter shall pay all the costs of burying the body at the designated cemetery in the country.
- Yet, if any of the legal inheritors of the deceased person requested the repatriation of the body, the recruiter shall pay all the involved costs accordingly.
Article 20 – Transfer of Jobs
Upon the approval of the employer, the concerned department at the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the expatriate worker may transfer to another employer before the expiry date of his work contract.
The expatriate worker may, upon the approval of the concerned department at the MOI and the MOLSA, transfer to another employer :
upon the expiration of his work contract (if the contract is for a fixed period)
OR after the passage of five years on his work with the employer (if the contract is open)
OR upon the death of the recruiter
OR upon the end of the company for any reason
Article 22 – Litigation Between Workers and Recruiter
Minister of Interior or his deputy may approve the temporary transfer of the expatriate worker to another employer in case of litigation between the worker and his recruiter, on condition of the approval of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Also, the Minister of Interior may grant the expatriate workers, to another employer in case the recruiter abused his rights.
Article 26 – Four Year Ban in Case of Punishment
If the worker was fired as punitive measure, and did not appeal before the concerned court or his appeal was ultimately rejected, he shall not be permitted to come back to the country before the passage of four years on his departure.
Also those expatriate workers who were repatriated upon a court verdict cannot come back to the country unless they got an approval by a decision of the Minister of Interior.
Article 38 – Penalties for Violations
Regarding the penalties for related violations, article 38 stipulates the recruiters or employers who let those recruited by them work at other employers without the approval of the concerned department shall get a jail sentence of no more than three years and a fine of no more than QR500,000 or any of these penalties.
The same applies to the employers who hire expatriate workers not recruited by them without obtaining the prior authorization.
However, in case of reconciliation before the resolve of the legal case, the violator may pay on a sum of QR12,000 subject to the approval of the Minister of Interior or his deputy according to the set regulations.
FAQ on Qatar Labour Law
How many months can an expatriate resident stay out of Qatar?
Expatriate workers who have residency in Qatar shall not stay outside the country for more than six continuous months, or else they need to get a return permit.
Can I work for someone other than my employer?
Expatriate residents cannot work at another entity without prior authorization.
Can my employer ban me from entering Qatar?
If the worker was fired as a punishment and did not appeal before the concerned court or his appeal was rejected, he shall not be permitted to come back for 4 years.
Can my employer keep custody of my passport?
No, The employer has to hand over the passport to the worker upon finalizing the necessary procedures of issuing his residency permit or its renewal.
What are the conditions to change jobs in Qatar?
An expatriate can change jobs either after completing contract period (for fixed contract) or five years (for open contract). Otherwise he needs NOC from his employer.