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It is against the law to lay off employees who are out of the country on vacation, Qatar’s labor ministry has said.

In separate posts on Facebook this week, the ministry reminded managers about two clauses regarding leave in Qatar’s labor law.

Article 85 states that an employer may not terminate the service contract or notify a worker of termination while he is on leave.

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However, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs added that Article 84 of the labor law prohibits employees from working for somebody else while on leave.

“If it has been proved to the employer that the worker has contravened this provision, the employer may deprive him from his wage for the period of the leave and recover what he has already paid of that wage,” the law states.

Reporting cases

If an employee is fired while on leave, he or she does have some recourse.

For example, the labor ministry has set up several electronic kiosks across its branches to accept grievances in 11 languages.

Complaint kiosk.

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Complaint kiosk

But pursuing a court case against an employer could be costly and timely. This can be discouraging particularly for those with little money and no access to transportation, according to rights groups.

Last year, the International Labour Organization (ILO) said that several workers they spoke to during their visit to Qatar were not aware of the kiosks.

The delegation said it also met expats who faced retaliation after reporting issues. And some said their court hearings were continuously delayed because their employer refused to attend the proceedings.

Thoughts?

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Officials in Qatar have apparently softened requirements on expats who wish to switch employers inside the country.

The move comes a month after a new law that relaxes no objection certificate requirements took effect.

In late December, Qatar’s labor ministry published a list of conditions that needed to be met for an expat to change employers.

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Among the more controversial provisions was a sort of retirement requirement that stated foreigners must be under the age of 60 years old.

Additionally, residents were told they can only work for companies that have an approved visa to hire them.

This is because authorities in Qatar are very specific when granting work visas to businesses based on profession, nationality and gender.

Provisions removed

Both provisions had drawn swift criticism from residents.

Many complained that the new law was too complicated and didn’t actually make it easier to change jobs.

However, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor & Social Affairs now appears to have removed both the age and the approved visa requirements from its list, which it just tweeted again on Wednesday.

The same day, QNA reported that Qatar’s Cabinet approved a draft executive regulation to Law No. 21 of 2015 on the entry, exit, and residence of expatriates.

It said the draft included provisions about “the controls of entry and exit of expatriates, work and non-work residence permits, visits, the entry and sailors, transit pass, return, residence permits and others.”

Other change

This is the second change to the law that officials have made in the past few weeks.

In early January, the Emir approved an amendment to keep employers in charge of exit permits.

Shabina S. Khatri / Doha News

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Previously, a clause in the new law stated that an automated system was to be set up under the Ministry of Interior to grant “leave certificates” for expats.

This was initially supposed to be the case. But officials said in December that expats would still need to ask their employers for permission to leave Qatar for any reason.

However, a new grievance committee has been put into place to address any complaints from expats whose sponsors do not grant the exit permits.

Thoughts?

Carlson Ferani

Crowds in front of labor ministry building

Hundreds of people flocked to a labor ministry office in Qatar this week after hearing rumors that they only had 10 days to change employers under a newly implemented law.

According to sources who sent video and photos of the crowds to Doha News, people lined up as early as 5am on Wednesday morning outside of the building on C-Ring Road.

However, officials explained to those who were waiting that the rumor was incorrect, and outlined the actual procedure for changing jobs.

And on Twitter yesterday, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs clarified that no such grace period exists. This is despite the information going viral on social media channels.

New rules

Under the new Law No. 21 of 2015, which governs the employment and residence of expats in Qatar, it is now easier for some people to switch jobs.

However, the no objection certificate has not been abolished.

Instead, only workers on fixed-term contracts can now change jobs after their contract is completed without an NOC. Notably, employees must give their employers 30 days’ notice if they intend to switch jobs.

Meanwhile, those on open-ended contracts must work for five years before being able to do so. And notice must be given from 30-60 days by the employee in this case.

Additionally, all foreigners need labor ministry approval before taking up new employment.

This can be obtained by applying through the ministry’s website or visiting its main office in Dafna.

Other requirements

Other requirements to change jobs include a provision that expats can only work for companies that have an approved visa to hire them.

This is because authorities in Qatar are very specific when granting work visas to companies based on profession, nationality and gender.

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

So for example, a Nepali blue-collar worker would only be able to switch jobs if his new company had an available work visa for a male Nepali laborer.

Additionally, the ministry said that expats over the age of 60 years old would not be able to switch employers.

Thoughts?