Employment Regulations in Qatar

Information on the working week, changing jobs and getting an exit visa when working in Qatar...

A new law  (No 21 of 2015) regarding the legislation to safeguard the rights of foreign workers, came into effect in December 2016.  

The sponsorship system of expatriates has been replaced with contract-based employment agreements. These changes allow foreign workers to change jobs at the end of their contracts and exit and enter the country more freely.

Expatriates already working in Qatar will have to sign new contracts with their employer as the new law does not apply to existing contracts. The government website Hukoomi has more information on Employmemt Residence and Work Permits in Qatar

Working Week

The general working week in Qatar is from Sunday to Thursday. Legally, the maximum number of hours an employee is allowed to work in one week is 48. However, overtime and company demands can often over-ride such policies in reality.

Changing Jobs

New laws which came into effect in December 2016, now allow expatriate workers with contracts made after this time, to change jobs with government permission at the end of their contract or after 5 years of service if they have an open ended contract. In order to change jobs before a contract expires, employers must get the approval of their employer and the Ministry of Labour. They must also give give written notice about a job change to their employer before their contract expires.

Employees whose contracts are terminated while they are in Qatar have three months to secure a new job. If a job cannot be found within this time, they must leave the country.

Expats no longer have to wait two years after leaving the country in order to return Qatar to work. They may return immediately provided they have a new contract with an employer in order to obtain a new work visa.

Exit Visa

Changes to the law now mean that expatriates no longer need sponsors to apply for their exit permit. They can now apply for an exit permit themselves through Ministry of Interior's Metrash 2 system and inform their employer 3 days in advance. The applicant will receive an SMS message stating if the exit permit has been approved or rejected within 3 days. There are two Exit Permit options: a single Exit Permit, and a multiple Exit Permit. If an employer contests an exit permit notice, the employee can appeal to the new Exit Permit Grievance Committee. This can be done either online, in person at a government services complex, or at a police station. The committee must respond to requests for an exit permit within 72 hours of a complaint being lodged.

Self-employment

Self-employment is generally not permitted for foreigners, as all foreign workers must have a contract with an employer. There are some exceptions for spouses who are sponsored by their partner on a family visa. Starting a business as a foreigner is permitted, subject to regulations.

Qatarization

A policy known as Qatarization is in place in the energy and industry sectors. This is an official scheme to increase the number of Qatari people employed in the workforce of joint venture companies and government departments to 50 percent. Companies have an obligation to open up a number of positions to Qatari people.