A series of workshops have been staged throughout Qatar as part of an ongoing government campaign to raise awareness of the country’s new law for the entry, exit, and residency of expats.
Over the last few weeks, senior officials from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs (MADLSA) and Ministry of Interior (MoI) have conducted regular seminars, aimed at educating the business owners and expats of their rights and obligations under Law No. 21 of 2015.
The awareness campaign included programmes and workshops which saw the participation of businessmen from Qatar Chamber, representatives of labour affairs from various embassies in Qatar, heads of labour communities, and representatives of private companies and workers.
Addressing a meeting of major private sector employers last week, an official from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs said: “The Government of Qatar takes a holistic approach to migrant worker welfare. Included in the new law are several new protections for workers during all stages of the migration cycle – from recruitment to repatriation. All expatriates will benefit from the changes, including domestic, blue-collar and white-collar workers. We believe that every individual helping to build our country deserves quality living and working conditions.”
When enacted on December 13, the new law will offer substantial new freedoms and protections for more than 2.1mn foreign workers in the country. The key changes being introduced include new options for workers to change jobs and apply for exit permits, as well as new regulations to prevent the exploitation of low-income workers.
The new law abolishes Qatar’s existing Kafala system, replacing it with a modernised, contract-based system. Under the new rules:
According to the provisions of the new law, 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.
In October 2015, HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani announced reforms of Qatar’s entry, exit and residency requirements. HH the Emir issued the new legislation - Law No. 21 of 2015 - which will come into effect on December 13, 2016.
One of the highlights of the new law is the setting up of the Exit Permit Grievances Committee that will consist of officials from the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour & Social Affairs, and representatives of the National Human Rights Committee.
If an employer refuses an employee the permission to leave the country, the worker can appeal to the Exit Permit Grievances Committee, which will give him the opportunity to contest any evidence that may have been used against him. Further, the worker will also have the opportunity to appeal for clemency, in cases where they owe debt but need to return home for a medical or family emergency.
If necessary, employees can have up to three months to find work by notifying MADLSA. When the worker has found a new job, they will be required to return to the Ministry and present their new employment contract. Expatriates who do not find work within this period must leave Qatar.