After the new expatriates law comes into force on December 13, foreign workers will have new options to change jobs and apply for exit permits, a government communique issued yesterday said.
Law No 21 of 2015 that deals with the entry, exit, and residency of expats abolishes Qatar’s existing Kafala (sponsorship) system, replacing it with a modernised, contract-based system.
A salient feature of the new law is that 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 the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs (MADLSA). 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 they complete a five-year service period.
However, it is required that expats in fixed-contracts provide written notice to their employer before the contract expires, advising their employer of their intention to change jobs at the end of their contract.
The duration to notify the employer will depend on the terms and conditions in the contract signed by each employee.
Expats who have open-ended contracts also have to provide a written notice to their employer prior to changing job.
All foreign workers who wish to change jobs will also need to get the approval of the MADLSA prior to taking up their new employment.
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.
In cases where a worker wishes to change job prior to completing the length of their contract, they will need to seek permission from their existing employer.
However, in cases where the worker can demonstrate they have been exploited or mistreated by their employer, the law gives them the right to demand to transfer employment.
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.
If necessary, MADLSA may allow expatriates up to three months to find a new job.
When the worker 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.
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.