Employing in Qatar: What You Need to Know
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Key Factors to Consider When Employing in Qatar
The “Qatarization” initiative aims to increase the number of Qatari nationals in the workforce. The employment of Qatari nationals are given priority over foreign workers.
Companies must obtain residence and work permits for any expatriate staff hired.
Corporate employers must sponsor all foreign workers while they are in Qatar.
There are local religious customs and business practices which should be considered.
In Qatar, employers should provide foreign workers with a contract of employment (Service Contract), or an official letter of agreement which specifies the conditions of employment. According to Qatari laws, it is not mandated that an employment contract between an employee and an employer must be in writing, where verbal agreement is possible, although written agreement is preferred. If an employment relationship is established without a contract, sufficient proof should be provided.
The employment contract may be written in English, although it is the Arabic version that will be officially recognized by the Qatar Ministry of Labor. It is recommended to have any employment documents attested to by a notary, although it is not compulsory. In addition, the terms of the contract may possibly be changed, so proper precaution should be made.
The contract should contain the following information:
- Job title and description
- Personal details including Qatar ID
- Starting date of employment
- Finish date of employment if applicable
- Notice period
- Probationary period
- Days of annual leave
- Employment benefits and other entitlements
The employment contract takes precedence over local labour laws due to greater stipulations and terms, although there are laws that provide certain protection regardless of the existence of a contract.
The duration of an employment contract is typically open-ended, moving from a traditional two-year contract to one that extends indefinitely until the assigned work is done or until either party wishes to terminate the contract. The duration of the contract may be extended given the mutual consent of the employer and the employee, and it is common for foreign workers to remain in Qatar for longer than 20 years.
It must be noted that Qatar has job quotas for certain industries like service industries, where official employment for that particular role may not be filled by a foreign employee.
|Statutory Working Hours||The hours in a working week varies between 40 and 48 hours dependent on company policy. In the month of Ramadan, the working day is legally reduced to 6 hours, although many companies apply this to Muslims only. The rest interval which includes prayer, rest and meals is between one and three hours per day.
Friday is typically a rest day, where either a Thursday or Saturday becomes the other rest day as part of a 5-day working week.
Overtime may be taken in addition to the standard eight hours per day up to a maximum of ten hours a day, unless it is necessary to prevent gross loss or dangerous accident. Additional working hours attract an additional 25% minimum of the basic wage for each extra hour worked.
|Medical Leave||The worker is entitled to sick leave if they have been working for longer than three months and if the reason for sickness is proved through a medical certificate written by an approved physician. Any sick leave lasting two weeks or less provides full wage entitlement to the worker. Half pay applies to any excess weeks off up to an additional four weeks, and zero pay for any sick leave taken after that. Termination may occur after the twelfth week of sickness if a physician indicates the employee’s inability to work. Resignation by the employee may also occur, where the employer must pay any outstanding balance on his/her entitlements.
|Annual Leave Accrual Entitlement||Workers who have completed one continuous year in the service of an employer in Qatar are entitled to annual leave with pay based on their basic wage. Leave is required to be no less than three weeks a year for those who have worked less than 5 years, and four weeks for those working longer than 5 years. The annual leave pay should be paid prior to the annual leave. The leave period lies on fixed dates specified by the employer, and no more than half of the annual leave each year may be postponed to the following year.
Qatari workers are also entitled to three working days each for Eid El-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha, which are religious holidays, one working day for Independence Day, and three working days of the employer’s choosing.
Muslim employees are entitled to leave without pay for up to two weeks for their pilgrimage that may occur once during the period of their service. The employer must specify the number of workers who are granted this leave according to work requirements.
|Maternity Leave in Qatar||Female workers are entitled to maternity leave of 50 days with full pay once they have been employed for a full year. This period covers the time before and after delivery and is determined by a physician through the issue of a medical certificate indicating the date of delivery. In addition, females are entitled to a daily nursing period which comprise of a paid hour-long break every day for nursing duties.
Employers may not terminate a female worker’s service contract due to her marriage or because of taking maternity leave. Employers may not submit a notice of termination during this period.
|Termination of Employment||Indefinite term
Under Article 49 of the Labour Law, the termination of an employee in an indefinite term arrangement may be initiated by either the employer or the employee with a written notice. The termination may be made without cause in this case, as long as written notice is provided.
Termination notice must be provided no less than one month prior to the termination date for workers employed for 5 years or less, while two months’ notice is required for those employed for longer than 5 years.
Terminating an employment relationship in this way requires the employer to pay the employee any wages and benefits due in full for the period of the notice, provided the employee conducts his regular duties in full during this time. The employer is obliged to pay this compensation in full even if they request the employee to not work for the full duration.
In a definite term arrangement, termination must comply with specific grounds under Qatar Labour Law. There are no legal requirements for either party to provide notice during the term, although termination without reason must be agreed upon by both parties. If the employee does not consent to the termination of employment, the employer is obliged to pay the employee wages and benefits, inclusive of service gratuity in full. The nature of these payments is dependent on individual circumstances.
Immediate effect termination
Termination may occur immediately in special circumstances where the employee or employer provides a reason for termination when a reason is not required. No written notice is required and no payments to the employee are required.