Updated with more on the new law’s leave benefits
Qatar’s Emir has approved new legislation that codifies salary increases for nationals working in government jobs.
Law No. 14 of 2016 on Human Resources Management, which was published in full by Al Sharq yesterday, outlines policies on the hiring, firing, annual leave, benefits and retirement of those in government jobs.
The legislation reiterates the state’s preferential hiring system, as outlined in the previous HR Law No. 8 of 2009. It puts Qatari citizens first, followed by these categories, in order of priority:
- Children of Qatari women married to non-Qataris;
- Non-Qatari spouses of Qatari citizens;
- Nationals of other GCC countries;
- Arab expats; and
- Other nationalities.
Once again, several public-sector jobs are exempt from the HR law, including judges, assistant judges, prosecutors, assistant prosecutors; Emiri Diwan employees and those in the diplomatic and consular sectors.
Teaching university faculty and employees working for Qatar Petroleum, the Qatar Investment Authority and the State Audit Bureau are also exempt.
The new law is expected to take effect the day after it’s published in the Official Gazette. According to Al Sharq, this will be in January, at the start of the new fiscal year.
Though the Emir warned of upcoming austerity measures in a speech last week, the new law does boost base salaries for Qatari government employees.
For example, nationals in Grade 12 positions, the lowest tier for Qataris, can now earn a monthly starting salary of QR4,160, instead of QR2,200-QR2,600.
And those in Grade 1 jobs, one of the highest categories, now start at QR35,000, instead of QR17,000-QR21,000.
Payment for non-Qataris appears to remain the same, with Grade 13 (the lowest category for expats) starting at QR2,200 a month. Meanwhile, Grade 1 jobs continue to start at QR17,000.
Promotions to two new grades are now also possible for nationals: Special grade starts at 35,000, and premium grade starts at 43,000 a month.
However, some Qataris said the increases only reflected the pay hikes that Sheikh Tamim handed out in 2011, when he was still Heir Apparent and Deputy Emir.
At the time, he raised salaries for all nationals in the public sector by 60 percent, and military personnel saw a hike of 120 percent.
Many Qataris have praised the new law for raising salaries at a difficult time for oil-rich Gulf countries.
The move also appears to make the government jobs even more tantalizing for nationals.
A year ago, the labor minister pledged to further Qatarize the country’s public sector, so that nine out of 10 such positions would be held by locals in the coming decade.
Qatar does not appear to keep statistics on how many expats currently work in the public sector.
But a 2014 government labor report states that more than a quarter million foreigners hold jobs in government departments and corporations.
Qatarizing many of these positions would be difficult due to the small size of the local population, which accounts for a workforce of less than 100,000 people.
It would also require a great deal of training, which the government is putting new emphasis on.
Meanwhile, the government has also been pushing more Qataris to take up jobs in the private sector.
The country’s five-year National Development Strategy had aimed to increase the proportion of Qataris in the private sector to 15 percent by 2016, but fell far short of this goal.
This is in part because Qataris appear to prefer better-paying public-sector positions, which also offer more favorable working hours and job security.
The new law does add a few more of these perks, including extending paid sick leave from one to two years for some Qataris; adding a third month of paid maternity leave for a woman who has twins; and extending paid leave from three to five years for a female to take care of her disabled children.
That said, Qatar new five-year national development strategy is expected to emphasize private sector development.
The 2017-2022 document takes effect next year and comes at a time when diversification from oil and gas has become crucial to Qatar’s economic sustainability.