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

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

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.

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.

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

You can read more about these updates here

Other features of the law

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.

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