qatar labour law (for those who do not know)
Article 61 of Qatar ’s Labour law
Web posted at: 3/1/2009 4:44:40
Source ::: The Peninsula
Workers dismissed by their employers on the following grounds (as per Article 61 of Qatar’s labour law), or on similar grounds by a government department or agency as per their rules, cannot return to Qatar to take up employment with another company before completing four years outside the country. Four years are to be counted from the date of their departure from here:-
The employer may terminate the services of an employee without warning and without paying end-of-service benefits in the following cases:
1. The employee is found impersonating other nationalities, has submitted false documents and certificates.
2. The employee has committed a mistake that has resulted in massive financial losses for the employer and provided that the employer has informed the Department before the end of the next working day, from the time that the mistake had occurred.
3. The employee violates more than once, instructions related to the safety or other employees and the establishment, despite being issued a written warning earlier and provided that these instructions are written and displayed prominently inside the establishment at a place where it can be easily accessed.
4. The employee violates more than once the commitments stated in the contract and in the law, despite being warned in writing earlier.
5. The employee divulges vital secrets of the organisation.
6. The employee is found intoxicated with alcohol or under the influence of narcotics while on duty.
7. The employee physically assaults the employer or other officials and seniors while on duty or due to work related disputes.
8. The employee repeatedly assaults his colleagues while on duty and was served written warnings.
9. The employee was absent without justified reasons for more than seven consecutive days or for periods totalling to 15 days in one year.
10. The employee is found guilty in a court verdict in a crime related to his personal honour
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE NEW LAW
Web posted at: 3/1/2009 4:49:11
Source ::: The PENINSULA
The new sponsorship law (Law Number 4 of 2009 regulating the entry, exit, residence and work of foreigners) was ratified by the Heir Apparent,
H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, on Thursday. The legislation is to be implemented by a department within the Ministry of Interior to be identified by the Minister (of Interior).
For the first time, the law formalises fines and jail terms for violations of entry, residence and work-related rules by foreign workers.
Sponsors are not allowed to keep with them passports of their workers. They have to give the passports back to their workers after visa formalities are over.
Foreign workers are allowed to come back to Qatar to take up job with another company only after a two-year gap (counted from the date of departure of a worker).
The Minister (of Interior) has been authorized to waive the above condition.
But a worker whose sponsor is willing to give him a release, can be employed by another company immediately.
Workers are allowed to sponsor their wives and sons up to 25 years of age and unmarried daughters of any age.
The Minister (of Interior) has the authority to grant visas to the parents of a worker but on certain conditions.
A freshly-arrived worker has to report to the authorities concerned (the department to be identified by the Minister) within seven working days of his arrival here. The responsibility for this also lies with the worker’s sponsor.
In case a worker loses or damages his passport or travel document, the authorities concerned are to be informed immediately. He will be issued a letter.
Captains of Qatar-bound ships and airplanes have to submit lists of their crew members to the authorities concerned. They need to carry along passports/travel documents and hold valid visas.
The carrier has to transport a crew member back at its own cost if a crew member’s papers are not in order.
Those arriving here on visit visas sponsored by hotels can stay with their relatives and friends provided they inform the authorities concerned within 24 hours of their arrival.
Workers are given 90 days to renew their residence permit (RP) after its expiry.
Housewives and children of workers are exempted from the exit permit rule. They can travel out of the country without producing an exit permit.
Similarly, visitors on a 30-day visit visa are not required to report for health checkups and finger printing. They also do not need an exit permit to leave the country.
The Minister has the authority to transfer sponsorship of a worker who is involved in a court case against his employer.
The Minister has the authority to transfer the sponsorship of a domestic worker if it is proved that he or she is subjected to oppression.
In public interest too, a domestic worker’s sponsorship can be changed by the Minister.
Workers holding residence permit (RP) can stay outside the country for more than six months provided they seek the permission of the authorities concerned either in advance or later by paying a fee. This, provided that when they come back their RP is valid for at least 60 days.
The Minister has the authority to waive this condition.
Working with a company or household which is not the worker’s sponsor is a crime punishable with fine or jail term.
Similarly, employing a worker who is under someone else’s sponsorship has been declared a crime.
With permission from the authorities concerned, a company can, however, lend its worker/s to another company for six months. The period can be extended to another six months.
The authorities concerned can allow a worker to take up part-time job.
Application for residence permit (RP) for a newborn is to be submitted within 60 days of its birth.
A newborn can accompany its parent/s here until it has completed two years of age, but his RP application is to be submitted within 60 days of its arrival here.
Workers facing problems in seeking exit permit from their sponsors, can get someone to stand guarantee for them. They can, then, be allowed to travel out of the country.
Alternatively, such workers can approach a competent court for a clearance certificate stating that they do not have any pending court cases or court rulings against them. They would be permitted to travel abroad. The court procedures can take a minimum of 15 days.
Such workers, however, need to publish notices of their travel in at least two local dailies simultaneously.
Women in independent jobs can sponsor their husbands and children.
The Minister has to issue extensive regulations on the above issue.
Housewives (who are on their husbands’ visas) in employment need to continue under the sponsorship of their husbands.
Qatari women married to foreigners can sponsor their husbands and children provided they get approval from the authorities concerned.
The authorities concerned can transfer the sponsorship of a worker provided the original employer and the potential one agree to it and submit a written request to the effect.
A sponsor has to inform a bank of all the assets of an employee in case of an un-serviced outstanding loan.
A bank, however, does not have the right to directly approach the sponsor of a worker who has taken a loan and is unable to service it. It has to first check with the borrower and then contact the sponsor.
The Minister can order the deportation of a worker in case of a security risk.
The Minister can defer for 30 days a court decision ordering the deportation of a worker. The period can be extended for another 30 days.
Foreign investors/property buyers and their dependents (wives and children) are to be issued visas for five years provided they produce the required documents and have good reputation and conduct and pass the medical test. Their visas are renewable once or several times over for similar periods.
The above person, if ordered to be deported by a court or otherwise, cannot return except through a ministerial decision.
He will, however, be allowed 90 days’ time to fulfill his commitments.
PUNISHMENT FOR VIOLATING PROVISIONS OF THE LAW
Article 51 of the new law specifies in detail jail terms and fines for violating the provisions of the law, while Article 52 specifies a fixed slab of QR10,000 as fine for flouting certain norms.
Major violations, including entering the country without a passport or travel document or valid visa and not using border checkpoints, overstay, not possessing valid residence permit, among other things, attract jail terms up to three years or fines that can go up to QR50,000.
Repetition of any violation (covered under Article 51 itself) can attract prison term of a minimum of 15 days and a maximum of three years or fines ranging from QR20,000 to QR100,000.
However, a highlight of the new sponsorship law is that despite some of its stringent punitive provisions, it provides scope for out-of-court settlement with violators.
For example, someone entering the country without a valid passport or travel document can settle the issue after paying a straight fine of QR20,000. Similarly, someone charged with entering the country illegally by not using border checkpoints can also pay the above fine and settle the issue.
Freshly-arrived workers, who fail to report to the authorities concerned within seven working days of their arrival, are to be levied a fine of QR30 per day for each day of delay after that. But the maximum fine levied on the violator is QR6,000.
Captains of ships and airplanes not submitting lists of their crew members to the authorities concerned are to be fined QR2,000.
Hotels not providing lists of their guests who have entered the country on visit visas sponsored by them, to the authorities concerned are to be fined QR10,000.
Workers who either fail to obtain a residence permit (RP) or fail to renew it have to pay QR10 per day as fine for each day of delay subject to the maximum fine being QR6,000..
QR5,000 is the fine for sponsors not handing back passports of their employees after completing visa formalities.
Visitors who arrive here on a 30-day visit visa are to be fined QR200 per day for each day of overstay. The maximum fine in this case, however, cannot exceed QR20,000.
Workers employed with a company or household other than their sponsor, using a worker who is not under his sponsorship and working in a job which the residence permit does not allow, attract a fine of QR20,000.
QR6,000 is the fine for a worker not leaving the country within 90 days after the expiry of his work visa. QR3,600 is the maximum fine for not applying for the residence permit of a newborn within 60 days of its birth or arrival in the country. Per day fine for the violation is QR10.
Diplomats in Doha welcome new sponsorship law
Web posted at: 3/1/2009 5:5:1
Source ::: The PENINSULA /By MOBIN PANDIT and JOYCE C ABANO
DOHA: The embassies of some major manpower-exporting countries have welcomed the new sponsorship law, especially the provision which bars sponsors from keeping the passports of employees, saying it would help in quick repatriation of stranded workers.
"We are very happy with the new law," said Vivo Vidal, a senior official from the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) here. With the Filipino workers keeping their passports with them, they could leave as and when they wished to.
But Filipinos generally do not lose their passports, said Vidal. "It’s just that they were upset about someone else keeping their passports." The ambiguity about who should keep the workers’ passports is gone with the new legislation.
It is a welcome development, hinted Sanjeev Kohli, a Minister at the Indian Embassy here. With a large population, many of whom are in low-income, some four passport loss complaints are lodged with the mission on average each working day.
Getting a new passport is an expensive proposition for a lowly-paid Indian since the fee is QR535. Additionally, there are the hassles of lodging police complaints and publishing notices in local dailies.
Distressed Indians wanting to go home or those being repatriated get stuck since some of them do not have their passports with them. So, with the new legislation having been issued, the repatriation of stranded workers will be hasslefree. The Nepalese Embassy also said the new law was going to help. "The passport of a worker should be with him," said a senior Nepalese diplomat, while the Ambassador, Dr Suryanath Mishra, simply commented: "The new law is welcome."
A source at the Sri Lankan Embassy said that his low-income compatriots coming to the embassy for help in returning home, are referred to the Criminal Evidence and Information Department (CEID).
But since many of them do not have passports, the practice with the CEID is to summon their sponsors and ask for the documents. Some say they have lost them. "This takes a lot of time with the result that a home-bound fellow Sri Lankan gets stuck just because he has no passport," said the source.
And issuing emergency travel documents or new passports is the only option left with the embassy to send a stranded Sri Lankan worker home.
"So if a worker has his passport with him, we can send him straight to the CEID and from there he can be sent home quickly," said the source.
Balance between rights of workers and sponsors
Web posted at: 3/1/2009 4:54:49
Source ::: The PENINSULA
Doha: The Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), the representative body of the private sector, has hailed the new sponsorship law and described it as the one which strikes a balance between the rights of the workers and their sponsors.
"It’s a balanced law and I think it is in favour of both the parties, the workers and their employers," said Mohammed bin Towar Al Kuwari, Executive Treasurer of the QCCI, said.
In remarks to The Peninsula, Al Kuwari, who is himself a prominent businessman and sponsor of a large number of foreign workforce, the legislation seeks to protect the interest of both and tat was a veru welcome development.
Prominent industrialist and businessman, Abdul Hadi Al Shahwani, also described the new legislation as a step in the right direction. He, however, said since he had been traveling overseas he would be studying the provisions of the new law at length and give his reactions.
"All I can say right now is that it is a good step," he added. Al Shawani is also employer of a large workforce.
He, however, said some more guidelines to regulate the sponsorship change, exit permit system and granting visas to the family of a foreign worker should be framed in order to guarantee the rights of both the parties (sponsors and employee).
On the sponsorship change issue, he said no businessman wanted sponsorship to be a means of slavery and that was why regulations to keep the interest of both parties intact were needed, said Al Shahwani.
"It is not justified to transfer the sponsorship of a foreign worker or deport an employee without taking the employer’s side of the story into consideration. "
"For an employee who wants to bring his family here, I think there should some requirements to be met before granting visa."
These requirements, according to Al Shahwani who is a prominent member of the QCCI, should include considerations such as the salary of a worker and his ability to support his family here.
"I fail to understand how a worker with low salary can support both himself and his family here," he asked.
On the exit permit issue, he said it is advisable to make sure about the reasons behind the refusal by an employer to issue exit permit for his worker or workers. "This is the reason why I have been stressing that more guidelines are required in this regard. It is important to know the reason why an employer refuses to issue exit permit to his worker."
Regarding the return of passports to employees, he said pointblank: "I have absolutely no problem with that. I for one have never retained my employees’ passports. The only thing needed is the exit permit to guarantee the rights of sponsors." Nasser Al Hajri, another businessman, said the law is good and does justice to sponsors by retaining the exit permit system. The exit permit system has been contributing to reducing cases in the courts and will remain playing that role. He lauded the step of returning passports to employees.
"Women can now sponsor their families is a good thing"
DOHA: The Filipino community is ecstatic about the new sponsorship law which bars sponsors from keeping the passports or travel documents of employees. It has welcomed the news that expatriate women in independent employment here can now sponsor their husbands and children.
Some Filipinos, however, were dismayed with the almost-unchanged law regarding an employee’s release which still remains under the discretion of the sponsor-company.
"People have been talking about it for a couple of days now. This is good news to us… It just shows that Qatar is on its way to being an ‘open country’; and embracing and treating the expatriate community like ‘family’," said Ernie Costales, a supervisor at the MAS Group of Companies.
"The fact that women can now sponsor their families is also a good thing," said Costales, who has lived and worked in Qatar for 10 years.
According to Ailyn Agonia, a journalist, the new law is favourable to married women who want to sponsor their families.
"The news that employees can now hold on to their passports is great news. Passports are very important to foreign workers… It’s like one’s identity. As for the new law on women being able to sponsor their husbands and children, I’m sure they are now heaving great sighs of relief as they can now look forward to bringing their families here," said Agonia.
Marilyn Pahati, International Academy for Intercultural Development centre manager, said it’s "really good" that the new law is giving equal rights to women.
Some Filipinos, however, said they were disappointed the exit permit and sponsorship rules remain almost unchanged: A foreign worker dismissed from his job or quitting on his own can come back to Qatar for employment with another company only after two years from the date of his departure. He can, however, be hired by another company provided his existing employer gives him a release and the authorities approve it.
"That’s what most of us are waiting for… But I guess our release would still depend on the discretion of the employers-sponsors, " said a Filipino employee who asked his name to be withheld.
Julie Alcanse, HR coordinator at Sharq Village and Spa, said the new law is an advantage to employees but she said she still hasn’t heard much talk about it in the hotel.
For Noli Perez, Public Relations Officer of Golden Eye Trading Co, the new sponsorship law allowing workers to get back their passports is a welcome development that would benefit mostly distressed Filipino domestic helpers.
Perez, who is also president of Aguman Kapampangan which is an association of workers coming from Pampanga province in the Philippines, said Filipino domestic helpers would no longer have a hard time going out from their employers in good faith since they can negotiate better with their passports in their personal position.
Working expat women welcome the new law
Web posted at: 3/1/2009 4:49:54
Source ::: The PENINSULA
Annie Varghese & Bindu K Menon
DOHA: Bindu K Menon, an Indian professional, termed the new sponsorship law "women-friendly’ . "It will offer a great sense of security to the working woman to see that her partner is around. If law permits, the husbands can also look for some convenient jobs", she said.
As per the existing law, only women working in selected few establishments can sponsor their husbands. The new law lift this retractions and facilitate them to live with their partner and children", Menon said.
Janet Ogari, a senior editor with a Government office, was quick to share Menon’s views. "The new sponsorship law is a reflection of the government’s proclaimed pro-women polices", Ogari added
Annie Varghese, a prominent Indian community leader, hailed the government’s decision to empower expatriate women by making them eligible to sponsor their husbands and children.
"The new decision must be seen as Qatar ’s ongoing initiatives for women empowerment.
Women can concentrate more on their works, if their family members are around. The overall spirit of the new sponsorship law is positive," she said.