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

31 Comments

    • Hi Peter, In that case the company can terminate the employee with due notice period and compensations as per contract. The company is liable to give NOC to employee.

  1. Anastasia mwangi on

    I will be finishing my 5 years contract by march 2017 and I don’t want to renew my contract with the company again, what will happen if I don’t sign the new contract by 13/12/2016.does my company has a right to terminate me?

  2. Muhammad Arif on

    I am working in a company from November 2013. For this company I have completed 3 contracts containing 1 year of each conteact.Can I change my job after 13 December or I will have to wait to complete my current contract which will be completed in November 2017.

  3. Hi I am prabash karki from nepal I am working in this company from may 2013 can I change my job if other employer is giving new job ? Pls tell me someone

  4. Yes Mr.prabash you can but only if you have completed the contract period of your present employer otherwise u need NOC from the employer.

  5. i have completed more more than 5 yrs my current company , can i change job without NOC , mine is open contract . pls reply

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