Employment Regulations in Qatar: Information on the working week, changing jobs and getting an exit visa when working in Qatar…
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.
Employees cannot switch companies during the first two years of their employment.
Changing jobs in Qatar is not straight forward because Work Permits are directly linked to sponsorship by an employer. Sponsor employers are entitled to a banning order, which prevents a departing employee from joining another company for two years. This also affects employees’ residency status, and they may have to leave the country.
To switch jobs without the ban, a no-objection letter from the current employer is required. Whether or not this is issued is at the discretion of the employer. A fee of QR1,000 to transfer sponsorship to a new employer applies, and it is usually covered by the new employer.
One of the conditions of a Work Permit is that an Exit Visa must be obtained each time a sponsored person wants to leave the country. This must be arranged by the sponsor, and can be done online through Hukoomi, the Qatar Government Portal, up to seven days before departure.
There are two options: a single exit visa or a multiple exit visa, which costs more
Self-employment is generally not permitted for foreigners, as all foreign workers must be sponsored by 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.
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.