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Employment in Qatar

Qatar’s employment landscape is governed by Labor Law No. 14 (2004) which provides minimum standards on working hours, vacation and public holidays, safety standards, collective agreements, worker committees and employment termination regulations. Certain employees in Qatar are not covered by the Labor Law, including Ministerial workers, members of the armed forces, and those in domestic employment.

Employers entering the Qatari labour market must be aware of the government’s initiative of “Qatarization”, which seeks to provide preferential employment to qualified Qataris in the public and private sectors.

Many companies in Qatar also adhere to religious holidays and work practices which should be observed or respected by any foreign workers and companies.

Key points on employment 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.

  1. Contracts

    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
    • Salary
    • 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.

  2. Probation Periods

    The service contract may contain certain provisions that define the duration of a probation period for an employee not exceeding six months. An employee is entitled to repatriation costs during this probationary period if he/she does not pass probation. No more than one probation period may apply to an employee for any one employer.

    The service contract may be terminated by the employer if the employee demonstrates their incapability of fulfilling the job duties of that role, with a three days’ notice.

  3. Termination Procedures

    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.

    Fixed term

    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.

  4. Statutory Leave

    Annual Leave

    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.

    Sick 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.

    Maternity Leave

    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.

    Religious Leave

    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.

  5. Pensions and Benefits

    Qatar’s government pension system is regulated by the General Retirement and Social Insurance Authority (GRSIA) and supervised by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The pension scheme is applicable to Qatari citizens and is based on the final salary of the employee at the time of retirement. Employees must pay a monthly contribution of 5% gross salary, while the employer must contribute a further 10%.

    It must be noted that foreign workers employed in Qatar are not eligible for pension schemes from the Qatari government and must manage their own arrangements.  Qatar does not have any obligatory state or employer-contribution schemes, especially for foreign expatriates. Foreign workers only have access to basic medical facilities and little else. There is increasing pressure for companies to provide corporate pension schemes and to advise foreign workers of arranging private medical insurance for greatest coverage.

  6. 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.

Outsourcing Employment Through a GEO Employer of Record Service

Compliance with local employment requirements is just one of the issues foreign companies face when employing staff in Qatar. For companies which intend to employ their staff directly through their incorporated Qatari entity, professional legal advice is recommended. Shield GEO provides an alternative path for companies to outsource the employment of their staff in Qatar.

As a Global Employer Organization (GEO), Shield GEO acts as the Employer of Record and ensures the employment is compliant with host country regulations regarding employment. In addition Shield GEO will handle payroll processing, tax and immigration. Using Shield GEO is the fastest and most cost effective way to deploy local and foreign workers into Qatar.

The Shield GEO solution is an attractive alternative where

– the company is looking to employ staff quickly

– the company doesn’t have an appropriately incorporated entity in Qatar

– the company wants to work within a defined budget

– the company wants to limit its initial commitment in Qatar

– the company needs help with tax, employment, immigration and payroll compliance in Qatar

Shield GEO can contract directly with the company to employ and payroll their staff in Qatar. Shield GEO supplies local employment contracts for the staff which ensure that local statutory requirements are met covering issues such as termination, probation periods, leave entitlements and statutory benefits.  Shield GEO is able to advise companies how to cover local employment regulations whilst still providing consistent global employment policies. Understand more about outsourced employment through Shield GEO.

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