The September edition of the official gazette included major changes to the currently applicable Law No. (1) of 2015 Regulating the Entry, Exit, and Residence of Expatriates (the “Residency Law”) and Law No. (14) of 2004 on the promulgation of Labour Law (the “Labour Law”) and introduced a new law No. (17) of 2020 regarding the minimum wage for employees and domestic workers (the “Minimum Wage Law”). These amendments stressed the liberty of work principle, alleviating the employment competition rules as well as setting a minimum wage.
In this edition of the client alert, we will tackle the major changes introduced to the Labour law and the Entry and Exit of Expatriates Law
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT THE NEW AMENDMENTS?
THE LABOUR LAW
The Law No. (18) of 2020, as published in the official gazette, amends some provisions of the Labour Law No. (14) of 2004 (“Labour Law Amendments”).
The main changes introduced by the Labour Law Amendments are as follows:
I. PROBATION PERIOD
The Labour Law Amendments provides employer with the right to terminate the employment contract during the probation period provided that at least one-month notice is served upon the employee. In addition, the new amendments grant the employee the right to terminate the employment contract during the probation period in the following cases:
1. If the employee wishes to work with another employer, the employee shall serve at least one-month notice to his current employer before he terminates the employment contract. In this respect, the new employer shall compensate the former employer for the value of the airfare ticket paid to the employee and any recruitment fees, if any, provided that such compensation does not exceed two months of the employee’s basic salary.
2. If the employee wishes to terminate the employment contract and return to his/her country, the employee shall notify the employer in writing as per the agreed notice period provided that it does not exceed two months.
3. If the employee fails to abide by the rules provided in para (1) and (2) above, and departed the country, a work permission cannot be granted to him/her before a period of one full year has lapsed since his/her departure date.
II. NON- COMPETE CLAUSE
The Labour Law Amendments reduced the maximum prohibition/non-competition period that an employer may impose on an employee. It provided for a maximum of only one year as a contractual non-competition clause. Parties to an employment contract cannot agree to the contrary.
III. NOTICE PERIOD
The Labour Law Amendments provided for new notice periods that must be adhered to by both the employer and employee depending on the employment period.
The new notice periods are as follows:
1. One month – if the contract is terminated during the first or second year of employment.
2. Two months, if the contract is terminated after the second year of employment.
If the employment contract is terminated without compliance with the abovementioned notice periods, the party who terminates shall compensate the other party with the a compensation equivalent to the basic salary of the employee during the notice period or the remaining peridot of it.
IV. WAGES PROTECTION SYSTEM (“WPS”)
The Labour Law Amendments raised the penalty imposed on employers who do not fully comply with the WPS statutory requirements provided under Article (66) of the Labour Law. It provides for a penalty of one-year imprisonment and/or a fine of a minimum of QAR 2000 and a maximum of QAR 10,000 for a violation in relation to the WPS.
V. TERMINATING AN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT FOR ECONOMIC OR RESTRUCTURING PURPOSES
The Labour Law Amendments introduced in a new Article (52) the regulation of redundancies due to (1) economic difficulties; (2) restructuring plan; or (3) for other reasons that are not related to the employment contract. In this respect, and without prejudice to the notice periods provided under the Labour Law, the employer must notify the Ministry at least 15 days before the date of termination of the employment contract with his intention to lay off a number of employees. The notification should include a list of the employees whom will be terminated, their names, categories, detailed written justification for the termination and the timeline of redundancies.
The Labour Law Amendments also include a penalty of at least QAR 2000 and a maximum of QAR 5000 for employers who violate the above-mentioned new Article (52).
THE ENTRY AND EXIT OF EXPATRIATES LAW
The Residency Law amendments are as follows:
I. ABOLISHING THE NON- OBJECTION CERTIFICATE REQUIREMENT
The Residency Law amendments repealed the requirement for the employee to obtain a Non- Objection Certificate(NOC”) from his employer to be allowed to transfer to work with another employer. Instead the process is now subject to the procedures adopted by the Ministry. Which are yet to be published by the Ministry.
II. RESTRICTIONS ON EMPLOYERS WHO RECRUIT FOR THE BENEFIT OF A THIRD PARTY
The Residency Law amendments included a prohibition on employers to recruit and hire an employee without concluding an employment contract. It also provided for a prohibition on loaning employees to work to work for third parties. However, the Ministry may allow the employer to loan employees to a third party for a period not exceeding six months subject to further renewals.
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