Guide : How expatriates can change jobs under Qatar’s new residency law

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Stuck in a job that isn’t you? Ready for a career change, but have no idea what else you could do – or where to start? Here is some good news for you.

Once Qatar’s new sponsorship law comes into force on 13 December 2016, the automatic two-year ban will be removed and foreign workers will have new options to change jobs.

Here is a guide explaining various options available to expatriate workers planning to switch jobs after 13 December.

Introduction

Law No 21 of 2015 that deals with the entry, exit, and residency of expatriates abolishes Qatar’s existing Kafala (sponsorship) system, replacing it with a modernised, contract-based system.

Expatriates will no longer need exit permits to leave Qatar. However, the expatriate or the employer must inform the authorities concerned three days prior to departing the country.

Important points to note

  • The new law does not require employees to sign new contracts.
  • The options to change jobs depend on two factors: (1) The type of contract (Fixed-term or Open-ended) and (2) Service period so far.
  • Under the new law, service periods are calculated from the day that the employee started working for their employer.
  • This includes all days of employment accumulated prior to the implementation of Law No 21 of 2015.

Case 1 – Completed fixed-term contract period

An expatriate who has completed the full length of a fixed-term contract (for example : 1, 2, 3 or 4 years as per contract) will no longer need approval from their existing employer to change jobs.

He will only need approval from Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs (MADLSA).

The expatriate has to provide a written notice to his employer prior to changing job. Normally the notice period is 30 days. However, the  notice duration will depend on the terms and conditions in the contract.

Case 2 – Not completed fixed-term contract period

An expatriate who has not completed the full length of a fixed-term contract cannot freely switch jobs.

  • He will need to seek permission from his existing employer.
  • If the employer does not give NOC, the expatriate will have to stay out of Qatar until the contract period expires.

For example, If your contract is for 3 years and you have completed only 2 years, you will have to stay out of Qatar for 1 more year. After completion of the contract period, you can come back and join another company (with approval from MADLSA).

However, in cases where the expatriate can demonstrate he has been exploited or mistreated by this employer, the law gives him the right to demand to transfer employment.

Case 3 – Completed 5 years service under open-ended contract period

An expatriate who has completed 5 years under open-term contract will no longer need approval from the existing employer to change jobs. He will only need approval from MADLSA.

The expatriate has to provide a written notice to their employer prior to changing job. The  notice duration will depend on the terms and conditions in the contract. By default, if the duration of service is more than five years, the notice period is 60 days. If the duration of service is five years, the notice period is 30 days.

Case 4 – Not completed 5 years service under open-ended contract period

An expats who has not completed 5 years under open-ended contract cannot immediately switch jobs.

  • He will need to seek permission from his existing employer.
  • If the employer does not give NOC, the expatriate will have to stay out of Qatar until 5 year period expires.

For example, If your contract is open and you have completed only 2 years, you need to stay out of Qatar for 3 more years. After completion of the period, you can come back and join another company (with approval from MADLSA).

However, in cases where the expatriate can demonstrate he has been exploited or mistreated by this employer, the law gives him the right to demand to transfer employment.

Case 5 – Employees serving ban

The new law does not mention anything about ex-residents who are already serving ban period (already out of Qatar under 2 year ban). This is expected to be cleared in coming weeks.

Other conditions for change of job

  • The new employer should have an approval of the same nationality, gender and profession. For example, a “Indian male accountant” who wants to leave his current employer and join another firm can be hired only by a company that has the approval for employing a “Indian male accountant”.
  • There should be no restrictions against the new employer that would stop the change.
  • The age should not be above 60 years old

You can read more about these updates here

Other features of the law

  • All prospective expatriate workers will be able to see a copy of their job contract, prior to leaving their country of origin, as obtaining a work visa will now require a job contract approved by MADSLA.
  • Expatriates who leave Qatar and have had their employment and Residency Permit terminated, will be able to return to Qatar to take up new employment immediately after being granted a new visa.
  • However, this will not be the case for workers who have been found guilty of misconduct whilst working for their previous employer in Qatar. Such workers will face 4 years ban.
  • Employers found to have confiscated passports can be fined up to QR25,000 per worker. When enacted, this will be the toughest financial penalty against passport confiscation within the region.

Time period for change of job

If the expatriate has completed required contract period and has a new job contract and visa, he can immediately come back (even on next day).

If there is no job contract, the expatriate has to leave Qatar within a  week of cancelling the residence permit.

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In special cases like termination by employer, MADLSA may allow expats up to three months to find a new job.

When the expatriate has found a new job, he will be required to return to the ministry and present the new employment contract. Expatriates who do not find work within this period must leave Qatar.


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- Published on 1 December 2016

26 Comments

  1. Sir,two months before I came to a company as a driver,unfortunately company is not good so I refused to go medical,finger formalities still I am working for the com pany this law will help me to change company,i want to know about fixed contract open ended contract.

  2. My company terminated me on October 2016 due to less projects and I left Qatar after cancelled my Residence permit.I would like to know , whether I required a NOC to come Qatar.

  3. Hello NRIcafe staff i would like to ask u : – what happened if I resign without ending my 2 years contract . Can I leave Qatar without getting ban 2 years and come back after a week with another work contract and visa? Is it possible with the new law?

    • Hi Elvis, Under new law if you don’t complete the contract period, you will be banned till the contract expires. For eg. if you resign 6 months before contract ends, you cannot take another job for 6 months (unless you have NOC).

  4. Dear NRI Cafe, I have to clear a doubt. I am working with a company in an open ended contract and already completed 5 years with the same employer.As per the New residency law, company forcing me to sign in for another 5 years contract. My question is if i do sign should i wait for another 5 more years to change job.Appreciate your feedback in this so that i can take a proper decision

  5. Hi,
    I came to Qatar and signed my contract in June 2013 for 2 years. The contract says it renews itself automatically. I never signed any new contract after these 2 years passed in 2015. Can I put my resignation and change my job now,without NOC?

  6. Dear Sir,
    my Company terminate me and contract timing is mention in contract for indefinite time and also one condition that on the termination I can not go to the competitors for two years. please guide how can I change the job because I have new job offer from other companies. I want change my job. please reply.

  7. Dear sir
    Am facing a hard time with my employer. My QID was expired before 5 months and till now he is not renewing my qid. Also too much delay for my salary . November month salary has not been given till date. Is there any possible ways to change my company, since my contract period need another 7 more months to expire.

  8. if I finish my 2yrs and I found new job in another company..need to leave in qatar or I will stay in qatar to start my job in new company?

  9. I’m come back qatar before 6 months I’m going to laber curt then my boss my passport blacked is CID so I’m final is laber curt after final CID or take exit than come back my country so I’m come qatar agen possible coming or no

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