Qatar’s Kafala reforms: A ready reckoner

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Nov 6 2016

On 14 Dec 2016, Qatar’s new immigration laws will come into effect, replacing the current Kafala system.

Doha-based law firm Kochery Associates, headed by Dr. Nezar Kochery, has released a ready reckoner of the upcoming changes.

Dr. Kochery’s work includes legal representation of migrant workers.

Some of the key aspects of the changes are:

Contracts

  • Definite Term contracts shall not exceed a period of five years.
  • Employees with indefinite term contracts can move to another employer after working a minimum of five years with the first employer.
  • Workers with definite term job contracts can change their employment and sign new contracts if they wish so at the end of the contract period without any NOC but after approval from the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
  • There is no mention of the 2-year ban on reentry.

(It's not clear if the contract term also applies for those who have completed 5 or more years with existing employeras of December 2016.)

Passport

  • QR 10,000 to QAR 25,000 fine for keeping passport of expatriate employee.
    • Exception: Request of the employee in writing.

Domestic Work

  • Employing domestic maids on hourly or monthly short-term basis is an illegal violation of Articles 15 & 51 - Law No.4 of 2009 (Article 23 & 38 - Law No. 21, 2015) - “imprisonment of the employer for a period of three years and a penalty of QR50,000.”
  • You do not need approval for tbe direct recruitment of Domestic Workers.

Disputes

  • A committee will be set up to resolve labour-related disputes to ensure workers’ rights and simplify judicial procedures.
  • The committee will be responsible for settling all disputes related to the provisions of the Labour Law or a work contract within a maximum of three weeks.
  • The labor authorities concerned may refer unresolved disputes to this committee for settlement.

Exit

  • To leave Qatar, the employee needs to inform his employer three days before and apply through Metrash 2 system.
  • In case of any objection to the exit of the worker by the Employer or the department concerned, the expatriate can approach the exit Grievance committee.
  • In case of an emergency for the worker, the Grievance committee shall take a decision on his exit request within three working days.

(Even in case of emergency, the exit permit would take 3 working days, which is worrisome, as is the fact that the exit permit requirement still exists. This is one of the most stifling aspects of the Kafala system, which begs the question, is this merely a renaming of current system?)

Working Hours

  • Normal: working week of 48 hours per week over a six day week with eight working hours allotted to each day.
  • Ramadan: working hours are reduced by two hours each day with 36 hours being the most that can be worked in any given week.

(It is not clear if this applies to domestic workers as well. In the absence of laws regulating Domestic Work, Migrant-Rights.org strongly recommends that these be maintained as the minimum standard for domestic workers as well.)

The complete report can be viewed below:

Labour Law Upcoming Changes November 05, 2016

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East