[LEGAL COLUMN] Overworked, separated from family… Changing sponsorship and work contracts in Qatar
[Q] I am in Qatar on a work visa with my employer. However, due to untimely salary payment and other conditions, I want to switch over to another company. My residence permit has not been processed so far (medical test and fingerprinting is not over) and it has been 40 days since I landed in Doha.
[GD] According to article 22 of Law No.4 of 2009, regulating the entry, exit, residence and sponsorship of expatriates in Qatar, the competent authority (Human Rights Dept. at the MOI) can transfer the sponsorship under a written agreement between the new employer and the former employer, subject to consent of the Labour Department.
What is the process for changing my sponsorship to another company?
According to the same Law, the sponsor and the expatriate shall refer to the competent authorities within 7 days from the date of entry to the State to complete the procedures of the residence or work visa. The sponsor shall accomplish the residence procedures.
[Q] I have been working as Office Administrator for a company in Qatar from January 2007 to June 2013. I was staying with my family. My 10-month-old son was born here in Qatar and has a visa. My wife works at a private hospital with a limited salary. At present, I am on a family visit visa. I returned after cancelling my visa to look after my son. I had requested for a NOC while resigning from the company and my employer agreed to do so after six months. After six months, I was asked to wait for a year.
[GD] According to Article 22 of Law No.4 of 2009, regulating the entry, exit, residence and sponsorship of expatriates in Qatar, the competent authority can transfer the sponsorship under a written agreement between the new employer and the former employer, subject to consent of the Labour Department.
In my current situation, I require a NOC, as there is no one to care for my child. How can I obtain a NOC from my employer?
Now that my wife and child are leaving Doha on a one-month vacation and I have to go away with them as I’m under my wife’s sponsorship.
If I will not get NOC from my employer, I will have to wait for 3 months in my home country after which I can re-enter. What can I do to stay with my family?
You can request your current employer to provide you with an NOC, and if they give you the same you can come back after finding out a new employer. On the other hand if your current employer does not give you one, you will have to wait for one more year (if you left Qatar after visa cancellation in June 2013) since there is a ban for 2 years for your re-entry under Art. 4 of the same Law mentioned above.
[Q] My employer filed a case against me when I tried to demand a NOC after I quit my job. I’m still under probation but I quit immediately because they did not provide me with the benefits that were stipulated in my employment contract. Am I required to pay the company because of the unfinished 2-year contract?[GD] According to Article 39 of the Labour Law of Qatar, the probation period is to be agreed between the employer and the worker, provided that it shall not exceed six months and also the worker shall not be subject to more than one probation period. The employer can terminate the contract within the probation period, if it has been proved to him that the worker is not capable, by giving the worker at least 3 days’ notice before termination date.
During probation, a worker can quit the job, in which case notice period should also be complied with before leaving. As the employer already filed a case against you, you have to wait for the decision of the case. Providing you with an NOC or not is the discretion of the employer.
I actually work 84 hours a week and if I take a day off, that is deducted from my salary.
[Q] I have been working as a restaurant waiter for 6 months in Qatar. My employment contract stated my work hours to be 48 hours a week with 1 day off per week. But these terms are violated. I actually work 84 hours a week and if I take a day off, that is deducted from my salary. And I still don’t have my Qatar ID and haven’t had my medical test.
[GD] From your query, it is very evident that there is a clear violation of Qatar Labour Law and the Law governing the entry & exit of expatriates. According to Article 73 of Qatar Labour law the maximum hours of work is 48 hours a week. The working hours shall include an interval or more for prayer, rest and meals and this interval shall not be less than one hour and the worker shall not work for more than five consecutive hours. According to Article 74 of Labour Law, a worker is required to work additionally if needed, but to a maximum of ten hours a day. The employer should pay the worker, his basic wage plus 25% thereof for additional hours. According to Article 75, the worker should get a holiday per week normally Friday, or an alternate day. If his work is necessary on Friday, he should be compensated with a basic wage plus an increase of not less than 150%.
I’m planning to complain about my situation and that of my colleagues. I’d like to obtain a release from the company; what is the likelihood of me getting one?
According to Article 38 of Qatar Labour Law, the Service Contract should specify the nature and type of work, the agreed wages for the work etc. Since your contract states your work hours to be 48 hours a week, you can approach the Labour Department under the Ministry of Labour for breach of the employment contract.
It is the duty of your sponsor to complete the procedures of the residence or work visa within the stipulated time.
For getting release you have to find out a new sponsor or employer to work with and the competent authority can transfer the sponsorship under a written agreement between both the employers.
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