In Qatar, ex-pats no longer need a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their current employer/sponsor when switching jobs (even if their employment contract is still valid) or sponsorship, according to a press release from the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MADLSA) and the Government Communications Office (GCO).
An ILO press release ordered the decision of the Qatari government as well:
“In a historic move, the State of Qatar has introduced major changes to its labor market, ending the requirement for migrant workers to obtain their employer’s permission to change jobs, while also becoming the first country in the region to adopt a non-discriminatory minimum wage.”
After the adoption of Law No. 18 of 2020 on 30 August 2020, migrant workers may now change jobs before the end of their contract without obtaining a NOC from their employers. As a result of this new law, coupled with the removal of exit permit requirements earlier this year, the “kafala” is effectively deconstructed.
Law No. 19 of 2020 does not only eliminate the need to obtain a NOC but also clarifies the terms of termination of employment. The worker must provide a month’s written notice if he or she has worked for the employer for less than two years, or two months if he or she has worked for the employer for more than two years.
Qatar’s 2030 National Vision aligns the new standards with human and economic development goals. By ensuring the safety and rights of overseas workers, these standards will attract talented and ambitious foreign workers.
When will this new law take effect?
Qatar’s Official Gazette published Law No 18 removing the No Objection Certificate requirement to change jobs on Wednesday, 9 September 2020.
Obtaining a NOC in Qatar: Terms and Conditions
What are the steps for terminating a contract without NOC?
- It is no longer necessary for employees to obtain a NOC to change jobs.
- There will be a minimum notice period for employees and employers to terminate contracts, whether they are fixed-term or open-ended.
- The employee must give 1 month’s written notice if they have worked for the employer for 2 years or less of the contract, or 2 months’ notice if over 2 years.
- The party terminating the contract without adequate notice is obliged to pay the other party compensation equal to the basic wage of the employee during the notice period.
How important are these measures?
- There is no other country in the region that provides a non-discriminatory minimum wage. This is a pioneering reform in the Middle East.
- It is non-discriminatory. There is a minimum wage for every worker regardless of nationality, industry, or job.
- By removing the NOC requirement, Qatar will increase its talent pool and give workers the freedom to switch jobs.
How will non-discriminatory wages be enforced?
The minimum wage of QAR 1,800 applies to all employees in Qatar’s private sector, regardless of their job roles or nationalities.
- A draft law has been passed by Qatar’s State Cabinet increasing penalty levels for companies violating labor laws, including in cases of delayed salary payments.
- Within six months, ADLSA will be working with employers to update their employment contracts.
- Minimum wage committees will be established to study and review minimum wage levels frequently.
- Those employees who earn less than the minimum wage must be amended by the new requirements. Employers must not lower wages if the payroll system contains wages that exceed these amounts.
- Workers are being educated to ensure they understand their rights and know where to find help enforcing those rights.
How will this increase competition and innovation in Qatar?
- As a result of the new laws, Qatar becomes a more attractive destination for talented and skilled workers.
- Due to these decisions, the labor market in Qatar will be more competitive and employers will be forced to hire and retain top talent to support Qatar’s transition to a diversified economy.
- A diversified economy will attract more investment to the local economy and promote innovation.
- In an already dynamic labor market, the new decisions will enable employees to acquire new skills.
What is (NOC) No Objection Certificate?
No Objection Certificates (NOCs) are letters stating that the previous employer has no objections to an employee finding a job at another company. Thus, the employee is free from any obligations towards the previous employer and can find a new job and a new sponsor.
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