Laws surrounding the employment contract and the rights of employees enshrined therein and guaranteed by the Qatar Labour Law have always been a matter of ambiguity, albeit unnecessarily. The Labour Law is explicitly clear about the rights of the employees as well as those of the employers, however, certain greedy employers have chosen to abuse the law, which the authorities are working to fix.
The first step in the employment process in Qatar means that one has to enter in a contract with the employer.
A service contract is agreement between an employer and worker, whether of a definite or indefinite duration, whereby the worker undertakes to perform a certain work for the employer, under his direction or supervision in return for a wage. Before signing a ‘legally binding’ contract one must understand it completely. The contracts are usually drawn up in the local Arabic language and in a language that is understandable to the potential employee. The contract mentions the details of the employer, the place and the nature of the work, the start and end dates of the contract, agreed to wage rate and salary breakdown and disbursement schedule. Generally the initial visa expenses are borne by the employer and is mentioned in the contract.
After having entered into a legally binding contract with the employer certain benefits are guaranteed to the employee by the Labour Law these include:
i. Basic Wage: The rate of payment for the work done by the worker in a certain period of time or on the basis of piece or production and includes periodic increment. Article 65 of the current Labour Law states, “The Worker shall be entitled to the wages specified in the service contract and if the contract does not specify the wage the worker shall be entitled to the wage specified in the work regulations.” Wages must be paid in Qatari Currency and paid at least once every month if the employee is hired on monthly wage basis, whereas if an employee is hired on a casual basis he/she must be paid at least once every two week (Article 66).
ii. Transportation and Accommodation: The employers employing workers in locations distant from the cities and to which the usual means of transportation are not available shall provide them with the suitable means of transportation or suitable accommodation or both. Potable water, suitable foodstuff or the means of obtaining thereof.The said locations shall be specified by a Decision of the Minister.
iii. Work Hours and Annual Leaves: The law mandates that the maximum number of work hours must not exceed 48 hours per week and during Ramadhan the same must not exceed 36 hours a week. The Law also states that the working hours shall include an interval or more for prayer, rest and taking of meals which interval or intervals shall not be less than one hour and shall not be more than three hours. The worker shall be allowed of a weekly paid rest which shall not be less than twenty-four consecutive hours. The law also entitles workers to leave with full wages viz. Three working days for Eid EI-Fitr, Three working days for Eid Al-Adha, One working day for the Independence Day, Three working days to be specified by the employer. A paid leave of at least 3 weeks after continuous service for at least a year. A worker is also entitled to a paid sick leave of up to 14 days after completing 3 months of the employment.
iv. Pilgrimage Leave: In accordance with the Article 83 of the Labour Law, a Muslim worker shall be entitled to leave without pay, not exceeding two weeks to fulfill his obligation to go to pilgrimage once during the period of his service.
An entire section of the current labour law is dedicated to employment of women. By law a working woman is entitled to an equivalent wage to the wage payable to a man if she performs the same work and shall be availed of the same opportunities of training and promotion. The law states that women shall not be employed in dangerous arduous works, works detrimental to their health, morals or other works to be specified by a Decision of the Minister.
The law also mandates that a female worker who has been employed by an employer for a complete year shall be entitled to maternity leave with full pay for a period of fifty days. Furthermore, Article 96 of the Labour Law makes it illegal for an employer to terminate the service contract of a female worker due to her marriage or obtaining the maternity leave as enshrined in the law.
End of Service Gratuity
An employer is be law required to pay the end of service gratuity to the worker who has completed employment of one year or more. This gratuity shall be agreed upon by the two parties, provided that it is not less than a three-week wage for every year of employment. The last basic wage shall be the base for the calculation of the gratuity. The Law gives the employer a right to deduct from the service gratuity any amount owed to him by the worker.