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A new law making it easier for expats to switch employers has officially come into force in Qatar.

To facilitate the legislation, the nation’s labor ministry has published a list of conditions regarding this provision.

It states for one that residents should remember they can only work for companies that have an approved visa to hire them.

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This is because authorities in Qatar are very specific when granting work visas to companies based on profession, nationality and gender.

So for example, a Nepali blue-collar worker would only be able to switch jobs if his new company had an available work visa for a male Nepali laborer.


Other requirements include, according to a recent statement from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labor & Social Affairs, that:

  • An employee give 30 days notice to his employer about his plans to leave before his fixed-term contract ends;
  • An employee on an open-ended contract gives 30 days notice to his employer about his plans to leave if he has been there for five years, or 60 days notice if he has been there for more than five years;
  • The jobs involved are in the private sector only; and
  • All applications and approvals are subject to terms and conditions announced by the labor ministry.

Expats over the age of 60

Additionally, the ministry said that expats over the age of 60 years old will not be able to switch employers.

This news comes on the heels of a report in Al Watan this week that Qatar plans to stop renewing the residency permits of expats over 60 years old.

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The labor ministry has not confirmed this report, which stated the move was to help Qatarization goals and to make it easier to hire younger expats.

The age limit is one that officials have been mulling for some time, though the feasibility of replacing experienced workers with untested ones remains unclear.

Currently, the retirement age for most Qataris in public sector jobs is 60 years old, though this can be extended.


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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.

Pay hikes

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.

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Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

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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.

Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani


Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani

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.

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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.

Private sector

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.

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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.


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Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Starting early next year, a new electronic system should make it easier to hire private-sector employees in Qatar, the country’s labor ministry has said.

The move comes weeks after the Prime Minister promised to ease work visa procedures, which can involve long approval waiting times.

It can also be hard to get visas for staff depending on the countries they come from and the positions they’re expected to fill.

Lower oil prices and a subsequent budget deficit have forced Qatar to speed up development of its private sector.

How it works

When it takes effect, the new e-system will phase out the current standing committee for recruitment.

The software will manage the various steps involved with employer applications for new staff visas.

It will also take into account and explain Qatar’s nationality requirements for certain positions, the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs said in a statement.

This will help improve transparency and prevent repeat applications for approvals, it added.