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Expats can change jobs after serving double the contract term
Foreign Workers in Qatar

Expats can change jobs after serving double the contract term

An expatriate will be allowed to transfer his/her sponsorship after spending a period that is twice the employment duration mentioned in the contract with the current employer, or after a 10-year period in case of open contracts with the approval of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA), according to latest amendments and recommendations of the Advisory Council’s Internal and External Affairs Committee (IEAC) regarding entry, exit and stay of expatriates.
The committee, however, suggested that if the employee’s nature of job grants him or her direct access to the employer’s client base and/or sensitive information that could affect the employer’s competitiveness in the market, the employer can oblige the employee not to transfer employment to a direct competitor or establish their own business that directly competes with the current employer.Moreover, expats or their hosts (previously labelled as sponsors) must inform authorities concerned about the expat’s desire to exit the country at least three days prior to the intended departure. The expat also has to inform their hosts about their departure before the application is presented to authorities.
However, in case of emergencies (such as the death of a first-degree relative), a grievance committee can approve the expat’s request for emergency departure upon receiving the application, without referring back to the host.
The IEAC’s complementary report on the draft law was discussed during the Advisory Council’s weekly regular meeting of its 43rd session on Monday under Council’s Speaker HE Mohamed bin Mubarak al Khulaifi.
Earlier, four meetings were held between June 24 and July 2 to take feedback from MoLSA, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) and the Qatar Chamber.
In addition to discussing the committee’s amendments to Article No. 21 regarding the transfer of employment, which does not apply to domestic workers, the Council deliberated about the IEAC’s amendments to Article No. 7 of the draft law.
Article No. 7 states that in case of the host’s objection to the exit permit application, the expat or the host (according to the circumstance) must approach the grievance committee.
Otherwise, the expat is granted an exit permit once the host’s approval is submitted to the authorities concerned, or after a maximum of three days of the application for the permit as long as there is no objection from the host.
According to the draft law, the host has no right to keep the expat’s passport after completition of the residence permit procedures or other paperworks requiring passport.
The host must also inform the authorities within 14 days of the expat’s leaving his or her job or the end or termination of the employment contract (according to Article 19).
The IEAC’s amendment to Article No. 39 of the law said that hosts who violate either requirement would be fined up to QR25,000 (no minimum fine specified).
However, some members of the Advisory Council suggested reducing the fees for reconciliation for the above mentioned violations from the currently suggested QR12,000 to QR6,000 in line with reducing the maximum fine to QR25,000 from the previously recommended QR50,000. However, the suggestion did not find majority support.
The draft law requires the host to cover the costs incurred for the expat’s deportation, unless the expat is proven to have illegally worked for another employer, in which case the expat pays such fees in full.
However, if the expat does not have the financial capability to pay deportation fees, the host is required to incur the costs even if the expat worked illegally for another employer.
In addition to amending some of the draft law’s Articles, the committee urged the Council to submit a number of recommendations to the government, including restricting the number of hosts that employ an expat to no more than two, in addition to the expat’s first employer in the country.
Moreover, the IEAC recommended obliging companies to recruit educated and well-trained personnel as well as adopting modern technology and the latest equipment to streamline processes and minimise the duration that such employees are needed in the country, while stressing the need to educate incoming expats on the customs and traditions of the country in order to preserve its values and culture.
The IEAC also urged referring to authorities in case of the employee’s refusal to continue working for their current employer, while recommending imposing a two-year ban on the expat’s re-entry to the country after leaving in such case. The authority has the right to exempt certain cases from the ban, in coordination with the expat’s previous host.
During the meeting, the Council also discussed a number of Articles of the draft law that regulate Residence Permits for the expat’s spouse and parents as well as procedures for burial for the expat’s relatives.
According to the MoI and the MoLSA, there have been some employers who have mistreated their employees, provided inadequate accommodation and abused Exit Permit procedures, but they are considered exception to the norm, which they said led to Qatar being classified as one of the top 24 countries for human rights abuse.
The MoI said that despite the fierce campaign against Qatar, the authorities will not be forced to oblige to all of the foreign demands, arguing that the contract is the basis for regulating the relationship between the employer and the employee.
Only one of the members had reservations about Article No. 21 regulating the transfer of employment, arguing that by ‘monopolising’ the skills and talent of employees, expats end up working in other neighbouring countries and Qatar misses the opportunity to utilise such talent and skills.
“Five years is enough to keep an employee after which they should be given the opportunity to either negotiate a better remuneration or transfer to another employer and get remunerated for their skills, thereby further contributing to our country’s output,” the member pointed out.
“This is the labour system the world over. The current recommendations won’t help us utilise the services of skilled workers and talented employees. The only solution is to let skills find those who appreciate their worth,” he noted.
At the end of the meeting, the Advisory Council decided to refer the IEAC’s recommendations to the Cabinet.
The Council’s Secretary-General read out Emiri Decree No. 35 of 2015 adjourning the 43rd session of the Advisory Council as of Sunday, July 12, 2015, after which he expressed thanks and appreciation to the Emir HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani for his support to the Council and for the fruitful and constructive cooperation to the Council. – Recruiter4life in Qatar via mfa network