Qatar is entering a new era as Law No. 21 of 2015, the new law that abolishes the Kafala (sponsorship) system comes into force on Tuesday 13 December 2016.
The law which was approved by HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in October 2015, guarantees greater flexibility, freedom and protection to Qatar’s more than 2.1 million expatriate workforce.
The eagerly-awaited law introduces new provisions regulating the entry, exit and residency requirements for all workers in the country.
Qatar grateful to expatriates
Discussing the announcement at a press conference on Monday, HE the Minister of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs Dr Issa bin Saad Al-Jafali Al-Nuaimi said: “The State of Qatar is enormously grateful to the millions of workers who have come to Qatar to build our nation’s infrastructure during this period of rapid change.
“The new law is the latest step towards improving and protecting the rights of every expatriate worker in Qatar. It replaces the Kafala system with a modernised, contract-based system that safeguards worker rights and increases job flexibility,” Dr. Al-Nuami added.
Freedom of movement guaranteed
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs (MADLSA), expats have the right to leave the country after notifying the employer, whether to take leave or for an emergency.
Expats also have the right to permanently leave the country before or after completing the duration of their contract, after notifying the employer according to the terms of the contract.
No more exit permits
Any worker who wants to leave the country needs to apply to the departments concerned at the Ministry of Interior through Metrash 2 system and inform his employer three days in advance.
The department will notify the employer and employer can approach the Ministry if he has any objection.
If the employer rejects a leave request, the migrant worker can appeal to the Exit Permit Grievances Committee, which has to respond to all requests within 3 days.
The applicant will be able to leave the country unless he is wanted in connection to any active criminal proceedings, or has defaulted on any debt in Qatar that remains unsettled.
No labour ban after completion of contract period
- Expats will no longer need approval from their existing employer to change jobs if they complete the length of a fixed-term contract.
- Individuals in open-ended contracts will also be able to change jobs without their existing employer’s permission, provided that they complete a five-year service period.
- If the employee has not completed the contract period (or 5 years in case of an open contract), he will have to stay out of Qatar until the original contract period expires.
- The service period will be calculated from the first day the employee started working for the employer (even before the law came into force).
All prospective migrant 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 the existence of a job contract approved by the Ministry.
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.
- Guide: How expatriates can change jobs under the new law
- Under the new law, an exit permit will not be required
- New residency law ill give 30 days to start the RP process
- Qatar’s new residency law to take effect on December 13