Qatar has taken steps toward making it easier for foreign workers to switch employers as part of the country’s efforts to improve conditions for foreign workers.

Key Points:

  • Foreign nationals working in Qatar will soon be allowed to change jobs before their contract ends without needing to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their employer. The elimination of the NOC requirement applies to all workers, but there are still some job change rules to follow for certain kinds of workers. Private-sector workers under Labor Law No 14 of 2004 who are changing their jobs must meet the following requirements:
    • They must communicate their plans to change their jobs and end their employment contracts to their employers using the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (ADLSA) website. Workers who have been with their employer for two years or less must notify their employer one month before leaving. Workers who have been with their employers for two years or more must notify their employer two months before leaving. Workers who give notice they are leaving must continue working during their notice period, which is the time from when they give notice they are leaving until they leave.
    • They must also submit a job change form using the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs electronic system. When submitting this form, they must also submit a copy of their contract with their former employer which has been attested by the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs and a letter in Arabic addressed to the same ministry from the new employer confirming the hire.
    • The Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor and Social Affairs will send an SMS text message to the applicant confirming the employment change. The worker must communicate with the new employer then to make sure a representative there enters the contract information into the ministry’s Digital Authentication System for a Multi-lingual Employment Contract. When the new employer has entered the information, the employment contract must be printed and signed by the worker and the employer. The new employer then must upload the signed copy to the digital platform along with other required documents.
    • Authentication of the new employment contract will be confirmed by the ministry. At this point, the new employer must pay the contract authentication fees and print the authenticated contract. The new employer is required to provide a copy to the worker, which can also be downloaded from the ministry’s platform.
    • The new employer will request a new Qatari ID card using the Ministry of Interior’s Metrash services web page. The Ministry of Interior will send an approval for the new card to the new employer and the new employer will give the new ID card and a valid health card to the new worker.
  • Workers who wish to change their jobs and end their employment contracts during the probation period for a new job are allowed to do so if they meet the following requirements:
    • They must notify their current employers at least one month before leaving using the ministry’s electronic system.
    • Their new employer must pay the current employer part of the recruitment fees and one-way air travel ticket in the amount agreed to by both employers. This amount must not be greater than two months of work at the current wage.
  • The current sponsorship transfer process will continue to operate until the new system is implemented.

Analysis & Comments: The changes are part of Qatar’s efforts to dismantle its controversial “kafala system,” which has drawn international criticism, especially as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Recently passed legislation also sets a first-of-its kind minimum wage at 1,000 Qatari riyals per month; employers who do not provide housing and food for their workers will be required to provide additional allowances. Authorities have pledged to take strict compliance actions, and employers are encouraged to work closely with Deloitte as the changes are implemented to make sure they are in compliance with new labor and immigration laws.

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